monochrom presents

A cinematic essay by Johannes Grenzfurthner
Written by Christian Heller, Johannes Grenzfurthner and Roland Gratzer
Starring Max Grodénchik as Mr. Hide

Is privacy dying? More and more of our data is recorded, analyzed and distributed. Avoiding surveillance networks, our oversharing friends and invasive services becomes ever more costly, while the algorithms to mine this data for deeper knowledge on us keep improving.

Can privacy or "data protection" laws curb the trend? The governments tasked with enforcing them are themselves the biggest surveillance actors, unwilling to hurt their own intelligence abilities. The internet users whom these laws are supposed to protect thrust them aside every day, in exchange for greater social connection, and the integration of useful computer intelligence into their lives.

Liberalism praises privacy as a core value and safeguard to personal freedom. But this value evolved only in recent centuries, as part of the ideology of bourgeois society and its core unit: the patriarchal nuclear family. The value of privacy atomized and individualized many social issues as "private matters," taboo to public discussion and politicking. It sequestered women and children into privacy zones protected and isolated from the public; zones of safety, but also powerlessness. The 20th century's emancipatory movements reasonably attacked (though rarely fully abolished) these kinds of privacy, often with slogans like "the personal is political," and with public happenings and coming-outs.

To these earlier challenges to the value of privacy, the internet age adds ideas such as "data love", "the quantified self" and "lifelogging". These promise the enhancement of our memory, cognition and communication through the generation and sharing of abundant data on anything, including the personal. But can such gains by themselves make up for the problems caused by the privacy losses that they demand?

What are those problems, anyway? Many of them may derive from social pressures that were once deemed sufferable, if barely, because privacy promised a refuge from them. Will we now need solutions more radical than privacy to confine these pressures? How might such emancipatory post-privacy tactics look like? How can we: Force transparency on the power accumulations protected by secrecy? Adapt coming-out strategies developed in LGBT environments? Learn to use increasing communication and visibility between all of us to find social support and organize resistance against repression, be it repression of long-running forms, or forms that come with losing privacy?

Could we stop worrying and embrace the end of privacy?

"Nothing To Hide" is currently in production.

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