OPINION: Satire: New tech destroys privacy

CEOs, government expand surveillance programs to unreasonable extremes in the wake of coronavirus



Facial recognition and conspiracy theorists have one thing in common: they’ve increased since the pandemic began.

JACOB HERSH, Evergreen columnist

When it comes to coronavirus, everything’s up in the air. Governments are scrambling to respond and strange solutions are being examined for even the slightest amount of feasibility. Maybe it’s OK to drink bleach? You don’t know, and neither do I, because this pandemic has thrown everything we know into question.

This makes right now the perfect time for an overhaul of privacy rights and the First Amendment while everyone’s preoccupied with not drowning in their own respiratory fluids. And so, governmental authorities and tech billionaires have jumped on the opportunity to expand their surveillance machinery like a dog who’s just seen a rotting fish roll in, and the end result is just as disgusting and smelly.

“For the good of American society, I believe it necessary to expand virtual and physical surveillance to all facets of life,” said Roswell Majestic, the CEO of Bendovr.

Bendovr is a company that made billions in 2018 by unveiling their new “toilet cam” that could connect to phones, which allows users to watch the object of their affections use the bathroom. Bendovr was promptly sued by approximately every U.S. woman, and most of their cases are currently tied up in litigation.

“The word ‘privacy’ is such an outdated, 20th-century term,” Majestic said. “We’re looking at new ways, new future technology, to bring the American citizen, kicking and screaming into the 21st century.”

When questioned, Majestic admitted that the only idea he had thought of recently was “ToiletCam 2.0” which could upload clips to the cloud.

The bread and butter of the expanded surveillance programs, however, lies in facial recognition. To understand the new programs, I spoke to the director of the National Security Agency, J. Edgar Vacuum.

“Here’s the thing, sport. Surveillance is the only way we’re going to really kick this here, uhh, whatever it’s called,” Vacuum said, puffing on a large cigar. A large poster of Edward Snowden hangs behind his desk, with a hatchet stuck through the head and the words “Public Enemy Number One” written on Snowden’s face. “The coronavirus? Is that what the boys at the CDC are calling it? Boy, that sucker really worked. You’d never know it was cooked up in some Topeka lab — uh, I wasn’t supposed to say that.”

Vacuum’s slip of the tongue aside, it’s important to consider how the expansion of the Patriot Act and the increasing reliance on government are going to affect us after the pandemic passes. To understand this, I spoke to noted tinfoil hat aficionado and Pullman’s resident conspiracy theorist, Jimmy “Abductotron” McGann.

“Man, you just know they’re putting microchips in the vaccines,” McGann said. We were interviewing inside his van, or as McGann called it, the “Base of Operations.” “I haven’t been vaccinated ever. Got all my original teeth, too!”

(McGann’s teeth are made out of various coins, filed down to fit into his mouth, making him look like one of the old Looney Tunes cartoons where a piano would fall on the character, forcing him or her to spit out piano keys like teeth. You guys watch TV, right?)

“Look, you gotta understand how it ties into the coming of our alien overlord, Rak-Shammu,” McGann said, adjusting one of the antennae on the top of his elaborately crafted tinfoil hat. “He hails from the Corona galaxy, actually, so it all makes sense, brother! It’s a sign from above!”

I left McGann’s trailer after he asked me to sacrifice a bullfrog to Rak-Shammu, to “ease the alien god’s transfer into the earthly realm,” but one thing remains clear to me: the corona conspiracy theories are endless, but there’s a kernel of truth to all of them. So to my devoted readers, I’d advise one thing: keep your third eye peeled, and your chakras aligned, because you never know what’s around the next corner. (Stay away from 5G towers, too. Lord knows what’s going on with those bad boys.)