Cary Doctorow’s Little Brother tells the story of Marcus Yallow, a high school student who rebels against the Department ofHomeland Security for violating his rights to privacy. Marcus goes to the extent of creating a new secure Internet, hacking transportation systems, and much more to protect himself and others from the DHS. I found Chapter 3 and 4 to be most interesting because Doctorow directly questions whether our rights to privacy are more or less important that protecting our country. The unreal treatment Marcus faces while being interrogated changed my opinion over the topic entirely. When Marcus was interrogated by the lady, why did Marcus feel so strongly over maintaining his privacy? At first, I felt Marcus’ innocence was more important, and since he had nothing to hide he should hand over his phone. I tried to put myself in his position and then realized I would feel uncomfortable if I was forced to hand over my text messages and emails to a random stranger. Marcus maybe felt that because he was innocent he should continue to refuse to give his phone up.
Our right to privacy is a central theme in Little Brother, and is constantly questioned throughout the novel. It is this right that has pushed cryptography to even larger extents, including securer methods of sending information on the Internet or keeping your information private entirely. Surely, Google and Facebook use information for advertisements and other services, however, this is information that I’ve openly displayed to the public. I have willingly put this information on the Web, knowing that it will not be private anymore. Should any stranger attempt to access other private information, then my right to privacy has been violated. In Marcus’ case, he faced the latter situation, and retained his privacy. Ultimately, Marcus took a stand to end violations of this right, due to one instance of injustice. As terrorism continues to rise, the government has increased its control over private information through phone taps and keyword tracking. Should government control continue to increase, the people will have to decide if the costs of retaining privacy are too great.
Image: “Keep Out from Francisco Huguenin Uhlfelder,” by Francisco, Flickr (CC)