#Smile You’re On Camera Campaign
Have you ever wondered why people cover their webcams on their electronic devices? Perhaps, they’re taking precaution to one of the greater issues of society that has been affecting our privacy more than ever. Privacy is meant to be a right rather than a privilege and we are writing this blueprint to spread awareness of this social issue. The #Smile You’re On Camera campaign is focused on collecting information on the malpractices used by various government agencies in order to maintain “National Security.” The main goal is to inform people by using the simple hashtag #Smile to spread awareness on the issue. The aim is to start an online movement where people can be guided to use tools and information within the articles we post so that technology users can be more conscious on how they are constantly tracked, monitored, and surveilled. It is unnecessary and illegal for government agencies to use surveillance tactics as invasive as these against everyday citizens, that is why the #smile campaign believes that education is the most important aspect to fighting against infringement on our enumerated rights.
History of Surveillance
Surveillance has only recently become an issue; though it’s been in practice since the aftermath of 9/11. Late in 2001, the Patriot Act was passed, which eased certain measures in place to prevent government agencies from freely wiretapping and surveying internet traffic within the United States. Shortly afterwards, the Department of Homeland Security was created as a cabinet level department in order to focus more effort into protecting national interest. It was from these two measures and a previous FBI counterintelligence program “Cointelpro,” that the United States began its efforts to create a “Big-Brother” type system to monitor its citizens. The Constitution protects citizens from violations of our unenumerated rights which is imperative to our safety. On the other hand, what is really fearful about our right to privacy is the technology that has been evolving rapidly over the years. The development of cameras, microphones, and more allows the government to monitor information about people with more detail than ever. Recently, an invention of a camera device that attaches to aerial vehicles reveals that it can track anyone in a thirty six mile radius for several hours. The news of technological developments like this is alarming and our right to protect our own privacy is something we are trying to spread.
By browsing through the blog, you might notice a simple hashtag at the end of each post. #Smile is short for “smile you’re on camera” which is a common phrase shown on signs used to let people know that they are being monitored in the area that they are in. The unique effect of this hashtag is the sarcasm that is expressed through its meaning. Given that smiling is an expression of happiness, our use of the hashtag represents the saddening endless intrusion of our privacy. Our hashtag is simply a positive expression transformed into a blunt statement within its context. Why do we choose to make it sound sarcastic and blunt? We believe that this hashtag provides a genuine idea of how easily our privacy can be intruded. Rather than alleviating the problem, providing a simple phrase with a larger meaning is what we are aiming for.
#Smile is a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of government surveillance strategies. Due to the emphasis on keeping the people informed, we believe that constant vigilance is required in monitoring and reporting about the activities of the NSA and other agencies. For this reason, #Smile maintains an active online presence through its leaders, who write opinion pieces on issues related to surveillance and frequently share links to other articles in order to provide a variety of perspectives. For example, although #Smile focuses on the use of government surveillance technologies in the U.S., campaign leaders sometimes discuss the use of these tactics in other countries as a means of discussing surveillance in general. Furthermore, because the campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of the issue, the leaders/writers make an effort to actively engage with the audience, rather than simply posting once a week. Writers frequently reply to comments made by followers in order to create an environment of open discussion. We encourage followers to contribute their own opinions on surveillance, the NSA, COINTELPRO, the military-industrial complex, and other related issues both on the website itself, but also through their own channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. A true democracy can exist only when its members are free to discuss and question.
The logo for #Smile You’re On Camera was created by Manuel Sanchez-Palacios, designer of Mickey Mouse, and was inspired by the signs that indicated that one was indeed on camera whether within stores or private property. It is relevant because citizens should be notified whether they are being watched or not, which is the primary purpose of this campaign. The lettering is used to portray a face, which is a metaphor for the face of the government.
The website is meant to act as an all-encompassing hub of information concerning the use of surveillance by government agencies in the U.S. In order to provide followers with the information and tools necessary to battle government surveillance, the website includes a list of important links where followers may learn more about surveillance and related issues. This access to other resources allows followers to become more informed about the topic. Although we believe that the current state of government surveillance is unacceptably invasive, we encourage everyone to learn more so that they may develop their own opinions on the issue. Furthermore, the website includes a list of browser extensions that followers may download in order to protect their privacy. Ghostery, for example, is a browser extension that allows users to see who is tracking them on a given website so that they may make more informed decisions about their online activity.