“You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day,” is the intro of the series Person of Interest. This secret system intercepts every single transaction, movement, or progress of Americans. Michel Foucault describes the perfect surveillance mechanism through the Panopticon, which was used during the Plague. This same idea was featured in modern times through surveillance cameras, location finders, cell phone calls and messages being recorded, transactions stored, and even social media updates. American government has kept this idea of Panopticon to locate and document citizens at all times. Government has invaded the privacy and freedom of Americans across the nation.
The picture above depicts the concept of Panopticon through mockery. The ‘O’ in Panopticon is illustrated to replicate ABC. ABC controls a network of technology that citizens use on a daily basis. Through their monopoly power, Americans have been hypnotized to believe the norm is being fed lies and under constant supervision. Although there has been terroristic threats throughout the nation, government has made it their duty to mark every American as guilty until proven otherwise. Through their theory, they have turned a free nation into a prison. The picture also marks humans as worms as if we are belittled to overpopulated maggots that only eat and desecrate. This depicts how government and monopolies view us. According to them, we are insignificant and gullible to believing the lies portrayed in media. The televisions only emphasize the idea that Americans are fed lies through services like ABC. I believe that behind networks like ABC are more powerful people who closely work with government officials. By that, I mean the companies will present the material that needs to be distributed to the citizens thus conducting the brainwashing effect.
The Panopticon is constructed in this idea that the prisoners cannot see each other nor the guard in the tower; however, the guard could be watching them at any time. In modern times, prisoners are citizens and guards are government officials. From what I have interpreted from Foucault’s claims is that the government believes a “prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector,” (201). Therefore, Americans cannot go out of the country without documentation and cannot leave the state without needing to have a check point – whether it’s a gas station or TSA. The location of a human is always documented because even if there aren’t those check points, there are still cameras and cell phone frequencies that give away a hiding place.
That makes me think: why is it so hard for police to locate a criminal if they can easily access their location through the multitude of technology? Is it a scam? How is the government using the information they have obtained? The scam could be this idea that Americans are not free. Although the nation is tamed, in a sense, the government ensures this through surveillance. The government could also act as a paranoid authority waiting to capture a perpetrator. The idea of their surveillance is for “those who take pleasure in spying and punishing,” (202). Government directly falls under that category. The technology they use is intended to protect the good of the human race. Therefore, they must take pride in spying and punishing. The government is led on nothing but “the curiosity of the indiscreet,” (202). They feel as if it is valuable to document all acquisitions to accustom to their idea of freedom.
Presumably, through the rise of technology, the idea of free has been altered. No longer are our amendments upheld. The Fourth Amendment states unreasonable searches and seizures are only enacted with warrant or probable cause. This amendment is not even an important asset when they is no privacy. There will always be a probable cause since there is significant evidence through surveillance technology. Although this does stop crimes, it also instils fear in all citizens making the safety factor decrease – even though the primary idea could have been to ensure safety. The new technology also creates problems with innocent citizens who are accused based on false pretenses in some cases. For example, if a citizen decides to buy products that could be marked red for security purposes, the government has reason for a search or seizure even if it was an innocent purchase.
Therefore fellow readers, are we free? Has government adapted the idea of Panopticon? You decide. The only rational reasoning for government’s need to invade privacy is for the “knowledge [that] follows the advances of power,” (204). If the government holds power over us, they hold the world. Anything they need, we are at their feet. There is a line that needs to be drawn. How long will it take until the nation finds itself entangled in their own lives?