Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of the times, with pandemic conditions, health and social conditions, that gives Dr. Martin Luther King Jr´s birthday such significant meaning to us this year. I am reminded more deeply than ever of what he fought for and the intimate sacrifices he made to protect human rights i.e., he fought, led even while surveilled, threatened etc. The years have advanced us in many ways, still the fight is just as raw. Looking within today's digital world, the fundamental human right of our privacy is in the wings. Technology’s blatant unwillingness to recognize or respect this privacy has ultimately reached a crossroads. We are at a point where the decisions that each of us are making about technology and smartphone use are having far-reaching consequences in our families, and society as a whole. What we are seeing is that our digital lives are our lives.
That's why this year we are doing our part to fight for some of the same human rights Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did. He used his voice to be heard, marched to be seen, empowered each person he encountered, as he led millions to stand together for what was right. This January 28, 2021, in honor of Dr. MLK Day, we are rising up, and holding a peaceful, virtual march on Big Tech. We are taking a stand, and you and the world are invited. WHY? Because the best way to honor his greatness is to bring people together, and stand for something he fought for: protection of our human dignity.
First, do not underestimate the notion of privacy in the fight for rights and equality. As defined by the global internet liberty campaign, Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Privacy underpins human dignity and other key values such as freedom of association and freedom of speech. But, it has been becoming more and more undeniable that this privacy is not being respected by our modern tech systems.
In fact that was the primary message of The Social Dilemma, that our privacy and ultimately our freedoms are being compromised daily. With Dr. King's birthday coming up, the question becomes how tech principals, like me, can help give technology a conscious sense of morality, and further the message in the Social Dilemma. I believe it is by raising awareness through music, increasing understanding through education, and empowering people through technology. At the virtual event on January 28, 2021 we will discuss the impacts of the misuse of technology, particularly for our community.
Consider the current misuses of technology and violations of our privacy, The Social Dilemma documentary showed us how this misuse feeds society's worst instincts. Whether it be through news feeds based on our browsing preferences, or apps installed on our phone, the effects are undeniable, technology currently is not a unifier like Dr. King was. It is, in fact, just the opposite. In the documentary we see that the apps which are installed on our phone by Big Tech are created to share info back to the “mothership”. This design does not discriminate, and takes our most private moments, fears, google searches and other self-identifying, personal data. Once armed with this information, the Facebooks and Googles target messages to our smartphones that can influence us in ways that traditional, fact based news could never. This influence from what we read and see often leads to hype, fear-based decision making, and a lot of confusion in our communities.
Looking closer at this past year, The Social Dilemma helped more of us understand that tech is a key influencer in what we believe. Big Tech has a unique ability to make a significant demographic click on something and find a “perfectly designed truth”. This puppeteering ultimately influences what large populations of people think, believe, or how they act. Whether it was social outrage and pain from minority communities, political polarizations, Covid-19, negative impacts on communities, families, children - tech drove our thinking processes.
So, why does Big Tech do it? Remember one very important thing, in the current digital world, your clicks, especially those resulting from targeted messaging are a trillion dollar business.
This brings us back to the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, and our January 28th, 2021 march. We are coming together with an authentic, values based purpose. We want all people’s privacy and other human rights to be protected and respected. We will begin with a discussion on Priv Tv's Community segment where we discuss exactly who the documentary, The Social Dilemma is referring to when they say “they” are surveilling and tracking all of us 24/7. Social justice can't happen without digital justice, and that requires privacy, it's just that simple. With deep passion we are barreling headfirst, as coproducer of Priv's Community, Tonye Aganaba says, "barreling into a future where digital privacy and surveillance capitalism are at the forefront of every political and personal decision."
We are honored to follow with an official screening of the documentary, The Social Dilemma (sign up in form below). Join us as we tackle topics like digital hygiene, surveillance and algorithmic policing, and security in an increasing online world. Once people begin to understand what is happening, it will become clear that in the bigger picture context, privacy violation really is the violation of our lifeblood — freedom.
So, now let’s put privacy violations within the context of Dr. King´s sacrifices. Two days after Rev. Dr. King told America that he had a dream, the FBI further realized the profound impact he could make. Everyone on every side of the race war felt his power. Some were inspired and envisioned a unified world, others threatened, which led to strategizing how to shut him down. This is when his rights, as well as his family’s right to privacy were most violated. Not even 48 hours after his historic speech, surveillance of Dr. King ramped up and took the form of tailing, phone tapping, photographing and whatever else the tech of that time had the capacity to do. This information was being put into the hands of people who had the sole mission to control and minimize his voice and freedoms of speech and kneecap his ability to lead peaceful protests.
What everyone needs to understand is that your mobile device is doing almost the exact same things as the surveillance tools used by the FBI agents over 50 years ago. Additionally, your mobile device is making it possible for the information being taken about you to put into the hands of people whose mission is to control you, and large parts of society for profit. But, there is one major difference that makes the problem that much more urgent - a smartphone does not need to sleep, eat, drink, or rest. So, of the 3.5 billion smartphones in the world, there are trackers on each and every phone to make it possible for Big Tech to influence society through clicks with infinite, tireless, precision.
Getting Exposed: As a community, as a world, we need better Privacy Hygiene. Do not forget what our predecessors have taught us; it takes a community to create a movement, especially one against the violation of our human rights. Rev. Dr. King held marches to put pressure on the establishment to change. Our peaceful protest will put pressure on me, you, us, and citizens everywhere to fundamentally change the way they use their smartphones, and social media. This is the long term way to protect our rights, and our privacy.
For Rev Dr. King, he had to wait until his message gained route with leaders in society. Today, the change we want to see, we can be.
To be that change, it is necessary that we start here:
1. Be Willing: Sacrifice the convenience of Tech and be aware of your habits that lack poor Privacy Hygiene when it comes to Big Tech (i.e. stop accepting “all cookies”, excessively downloading free apps, or not removing unused ones).
2. Make Priv a Routine: Priv The App must become a part of your daily routine and Privacy Hygiene, no different than brushing your teeth, and flossing three times a day. Install an app for smartphone privacy the same way you would purchase a tube of toothpaste to protect your teeth. Remember the necessary changes to protect your privacy each month range from literally free to less than a few dollars each month.
3. Commit to a Few Hours a Day: Start starving Big Tech of your data (what it needs to exist).
Choose to "technically" disconnect when you are away from your phone.
4. Save Money: To fundamentally change the way you use your phone and social media, there is literally no cost. In fact, these changes actually save you money, because there is significantly less data usage by apps on your phone.
This revolution is powerful, but simple. All you have to do is commit to good Privacy Hygiene. Fundamentally changing how you use your mobile phone and how you make safer choices will mean breaking the habit of just clicking and accepting, without thinking.
“What we think, we become.” Buddha. In 2021, rethink your place in the Big Tech food chain, be inspired, be empowered, and become digitally free, not just for you, but for your children and those that will come after you.
We are doing our part to support our community's fight to protect privacy and our rights, but we need your help to spread the word. If you want to receive more updates about Privacy and Digital Rights, and want more info about the January 28th, 2021 virtual event, please sign up below: