The Circle has now started to immerse Mae into their world of technology and the tone has subtly changed from exciting and new to almost creepy and unsettling. The first time this tone comes into play is when Bailey introduces his new technology SeeChange. SeeChange consists of millions of tiny, unnoticed cameras placed around the world which can be accessed and viewed by The Circle. When presenting he uses the statement “we will become all seeing, all knowing,” to try to rally applause from his audience. This statement being used so lightheartedly personally makes me a bit uneasy even though this technology does not actually exist.
There is a very delicate balance in the relationship between a person’s privacy and data that can be collected, and It seems to me that the new age products that The Circle introduces seem to almost cross the boundaries of the relationship. Not only does SeeChange cross this line but so does the program that Francis has tried to perfect, The Chips. Although these products have been created for very positive and seemingly harmless reasons ,such as children’s safety, they can be perceived as creepy and as an invasion of privacy.
When Annie states “All that happens must be known,” it implies that the circle intends to eventually be able to have access to the entire world’s information. This can be be related to modern day concerns in our society, with people being paranoid about the government hacking into people’s cellphones and using their personal information for the sake of Social Security.
In my opinion there should be a balanced relationship between privacy and the collection of data. For security reasons it makes sense to collect an individuals information however there is a point where personal data should remain private. The government does need to obtain certain personal details to make sure that our country remains a safe space but that does not give them the right to become “all seeing, all knowing” as Bailey says in the book. This is why the controversy over cellphone hacking by the government exists, because it is thought that this is an invasion of people’s rights to be private.
This does impose the question of social media however. Is it ok to use information found on a person’s social media account because it is technically public knowledge? This is a question that Mae is challenged with after Francis uses her information in a presentation of yet another data collecting technology. After all her information is presented, Mae tries to pinpoint what made her so uncomfortable about the presentation as Francis does note that she made all the information he used publicly available. Do you agree with Francis? Is using people’s public information in such a manner ok?
I think that The Circle does a great job of posing questions about how data and privacy interact with each other, what about you?