Political Affiliation Influences Our Fear of Data Collection
, 2022-06-03 06:40:11,
Throughout history, governments have exploited or collected data on their citizens—from benign data, like salary information and census records, to creepy data, like biometric records for law enforcement activities. With abortion rights under attack in the U.S., privacy experts are warning about the potential for the government to collect and use cell phone data to target and prosecute pregnant people and those seeking abortion. Over the past year the FBI made more than three million warrantless queries on the data of U.S. residents collected by both the government and private companies.
A shrinking share of Americans support such warrantless government surveillance. Yet we have not effectively advocated against the growing surveillance of our personal data. That’s because we aren’t taking a principled view on government surveillance as a whole. Instead, we are starting to see viewpoints devolve into ostracization and hatred of the “other.”
Our original research suggests that Americans’ fears about government surveillance change based on who is in power and what we fear that political party may do with our data. These fears cloud the issue at hand: If we want more control over our own privacy, then we need to put our focus towards what data the government collects and what they do with that data. But, despite bipartisan support of laws limiting data collection and privacy, legislators’ efforts to stop government surveillance have floundered.
To protect our privacy we need to focus on the laws and programs that enable data collection on Americans. These laws and programs stay constant even as administrations shift. This is because a constellation of government agencies, courts and laws together govern how we are surveilled. Instead of trusting or…
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