Silence Will Not Keep You Safe. Silence Cannot Keep You Hidden Any More

“I’ll be safe if I keep my mouth shut,” he said. “I don’t look like one of the groups they hate.”

That was his response to the news of naturalized citizens being deported. I was (and am) worried that this is just the start; that other “undesirables” might find themselves on shaky ground.

He isn’t worried at all. He figures that since he’s not a person of color, he can “pass” if he needs to. His differences – his politics, religion, orientation, and relationship style – are not ones that leave visible marks on the skin.

I wanted to quote Martin Niemöller at him, to say “first they came for…” with a knowing look.

But I think it’s worse than that.

I don’t think you’ll have to wait for them to come for you.

And you won’t be safe by keeping your mouth shut.

First, nothing goes away forever on the internet. (Examples: My website in 2003, or this post from 1997). Once the data is collected once, it doesn’t matter if you delete it. Copies are trivial. Whatever you’ve said in the past, be prepared to defend it in the future. Not only are there nonprofit archives or hobbyists keeping records, but Google’s (and Bing and Yahoo and and and) has probably saved every email and search.

Second, facial recognition is scary creepy good anymore – you’ve probably seen it in action identifying your friends on Facebook or Google Photos. Simply being in public and photographed means you are identifiable.

But even if you have never uttered a word, never attended a protest, your aren’t safe.

Because we don’t need to wait for you to say something.

Remember when Target figured out a girl was pregnant before her dad did? That technology was six years ago. That was iOS5 and Android Gingerbread. And you better believe that social media giants are paying attention to your politics and your behavior. And the technology has gotten better, now predicting human behavior better than humans.

And if they can figure out your views and beliefs without you actually saying anything publicly, that means the government can as well.

You won’t have to say anything. You won’t have to publicly resist.

They’ll figure it out from the rest of your behavior.

So reconsider.

And however you can, stand.

There are protests this weekend; if you can safely, find one near you. If you cannot attend for whatever reason, speak out with us.

In the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

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