If the government isn’t spying on you yet, it probably will be soon. In the 2014 version of its Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense (DOD) said it planned to increase its investments in “new and expanded cyber capabilities” despite sweeping cuts in overall funding. These efforts are connected in a murky way to the NSA’s ongoing practice of collecting phone metadata and online surveillance.
Add to this snooping the fact that corporate America is constantly gathering information on consumers, which is to say everyone, and you have a population that is triangulated by observers on and offline. Where government and corporate efforts fail Americans are more than happy to fill the void with selfies and hacked cell phones.
Less than a year after Edward Snowden exposed NSA hack practices, spying on Americans has become a bragging right for various agencies. In the attached clip Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task says the days of Americans being concerned over personal privacy are gone forever. “It’s a generational thing,” Task explains, “anybody under the age of 30 grew up with the Internet and Facebook (FB). They want everything to be public”.
We’ve traded our privacy for free email accounts and online shopping. When Facebook announced solar-powered drones that could float over earth beaming free wi-fi, no one seemed to really care about the implications of a company that openly covets your personal data taking control of internet on-ramps. The only issue was whether Facebook’s drones could capture the market before Google’s (GOOG) internet blimps.
Whatever barriers remained between commerce and privacy they’re gone now. As an investment thesis the question isn’t whether there will be public blowback from privacy violations as to how best to monetize your hacked selfies and photoshopped nudes.
For Luddites who’d rather have some semblance of privacy there are ever fewer places to hide. It’s far easier to buy shares of Facebook, hedge it with Google and try to lead a life that’s interesting enough to amuse the people watching your every move.
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