In regards to politics, one of my biggest gripes is simply that the Government, in my opinion, has too much power. With too much power, the act of temptation and possibility of misusing this power usually follows. This statement couldn’t be closer to the truth with many acts, decisions, and events our Government has been involved in where they have simply abused their power, creating an even bigger mess that needs addressed.
With this idea in mind, it makes me think of an appalling piece of legislation which was soon passed after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks in 2001, The Patriot Act. Being one of the most, “Un-Patriotic Acts,” this act directly violates American’s Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which, “prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.” Simply, the Government, often by the acts of the National Security Agency (NSA), can obtain individual’s computer history, emails, browser searches, and personal information, without consent, in hopes that they stumble upon and stop possible terrorist activity.
With this concept brought to the surface, it relates well to two concepts which have a strong and evident relationship early throughout Dave Eggers, The Circle, data and privacy. The two ideas go hand and hand, and it is tough to isolate one without the other.
One of the first main occurrences where data and privacy are first exemplified is when Mae is called down to Dan’s office to see him quietly sitting there with one of Mae’s co-workers, Alistair. When entering, “Dan’s eyes were steady, while Alistair’s look was hurt but expectant” (106). Mae finds out shortly after her arrival that the main reason behind Alistair’s disappointment was because she did not attend his Portugal Brunch (107). When later trying to discover how Alistair knew Mae had an interest in Portugal, Mae told her that the only thing that showed interest in Portugal was that she pictures on her laptop from Lisbon, to which Annie told her, “If they were on your laptop, now they’re in the cloud, and the cloud gets scanned for information like that” (111). This clearly shows the relationship between these two concepts, as Mae’s privacy was breached and abused and her photos were unknowingly collected as data for Alistair to plan an event.
Additionally when Gus is introducing his new dating app, Mae’s privacy along with her data and information is revealed without her permission. Gus calls Francis up to the stage to be a volunteer. After asking him to give the name of an individual he would like to take a date, he types in the name Mae Holland. Initially, all kind’s of information about Mae comes up. Whether it be her allergies, or preferences in food, hobbies, sports or movies, all personal information of Mae’s is now open to the general public (124). With the usage of this app, any single person can find out what they need to know about setting up a perfect date with a possible companion. Any time she posted or mentioned any aspect through the internet, they were automatically ranked and listed in order in preference.
Finally, this same trend of privacy being attacked happens when she visits Doctor Villalobos. When visiting, Mae not only finds out that, “all the data,” that the doctors have charted in regards to Mae’s health, “is available online” (153). Anyone can see her prior medical history and now, they can see her current vitals, as Dr. Villalobos makes her consume a drink which had a chip in it which constantly updated all of Mae’s health test results. Once again, this constant idea of abusing privacy in pursuit of obtaining data is evident, and it truly shows that this combination is undeniably a detriment to Mae’s well being.