Today is a sad day in Sweden since the government voted through a directive called the data retention directive (Datalagringsdirektivet in Swedish). What it basically means is that everyone is considered a suspect and put under surveillance by the government. The directive says that telecommunication data from all citizens must be stored 6-12 months. Some of the examples of what will be stored (including locations and times) are: IP addresses, e-mails, phone calls and text messages. In today’s connected world this would effectively allow the government to track most of your steps and activities any given day.
Left picture shows Sweden before the data retention directive where citizens are considered innocent until something makes them into suspects. They are considered innocent until proven guilty in court. The right picture shows how the citizens are always considered suspects and kept under surveillance. There are no innocents, only suspects and people judged as guilty.
Considering everyone guilty infinitely creates a very punitive atmosphere. This world view is something that needs to be looked at from behavioral science. Theory X and Y is created by McGregor where he explains human motivation.
Theory X signifies a world view where people are considered lazy and will avoid work. To motivate people to work the manager uses threats and benefits (whips and carrots). This leads to distrust, supervision and a punitive atmosphere. Theory Y signifies a more positive world view where people are considered ambitious and self-motivated. The satisfaction of doing a good job is motivation in itself. This worldview gives the people more room to be creative and come with their own suggestions.
A parallell between McGregor’s X/Y model and the data retention directive can be seen. If the Internet is seen as something that needs carrots and whips to make people more productive one needs to have more surveillance and control. This control over production restricts new creations to what is “approved by the managers”. The opposite world view would be seeing people and Internet as theory Y. This theory would put trust in a free internet, believing people can be productive and create good things on their own.
The consequences of implementing a directive like the data detention directive is that one declares everyone a suspect for an infinite amount of time. Everyone is put under surveillance 24/7. Even with “no secrets” to hide the directive will affect people’s behavior. The fact that people are under constant surveillance will make them adjust their behavior towards things that will look good and thus in effect make people less creative. Even with “nothing to hide” there is still a need for privacy and integrity e.g. toilet visits, love whispers, passwords, doctor visits, gift shopping etc. Knowing your tracked through your phone might make you avoid visiting the suburbs or the gift shop next to a harley davidson club since you might be suspected of doing something else there.