We are data – who needs PRISM?

Online privacy hits big politics as US president Obama cancels his bilateral meeting with Russia’s Putin in September, in favour of a visit to my native Sweden. Clearly this is about Russia’s isupport for Edward Snowden (though some will tell you it’s really a lot more complicated). Recent developments suggest that the PRISM-program was a lot more far-reaching than first indicated, clearly something the US government would have preferred to be kept from the public eye. At the same time, we freely provide more personal information than ever through online social networks such as Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook etc with no indication of slowing down. One stunning example of this is a promotion campaign for the video game Watch Dogs (set in a dystopian future with omnipresent surveillance). “We Are Data” is a so-called mash-up of public information and personal details made public through social media. It offers a bird’s eye view of Paris, Berlin, and London, and the map zooms in for a closer look on specific neighbourhoods – complete with lay-overs of public transportation, traffic lights, surveillance cameras, mobile network nodes, and lots of other data from public sources (average income, crime rate, etc). But on top of this, links to users of social media – click on London’s Tate Modern, find out who posted the most recent Instagram-pic, and before you know it your scrolling through a perfect stranger’s private photo collection. In online surveillance, it seems we are our own worst enemies. What government needs something like Prism when there is social media?