A dystopian world, as described by our class, can arguably contain any mixture of criteria, but there are several key features that many (if not all) staples of the genre possess in one form or another. As a consensus, we concluded that generally, a dystopia can be identified by an oppressive existence typically facilitated by a government system as a result of human reaction to a crisis or need. One of the first things a dystopian government will remove is the freedom of the people. Oppression and freedom cannot coexist. This calls to attention the freedoms that some people are willingly or unwillingly allowing their governments to violate. One of those freedoms being privacy. In an effort to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, countries across the world such as South Korea, Italy, and Israel are pushing the boundaries by actively tracking citizens through their cellphones, surveillance cameras, and even credit card usage (“Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates…” Singer, Sang-Hun). As benevolent as the reasoning may seem, this could jumpstart these practices becoming the norm. As Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun put it in their NYT Article “As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets,” the use of these surveillance tools “threatens to alter the precarious balance between public safety and personal privacy on a global scale.” Similar tactics have been seen in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, wherein the safety measures taken through the Patriot Act remain active to this day. This should be a red flag to citizens that some governments are willing to strip their personal freedoms if they are given the opportunity.
Not only is this level of surveillance alarming, it can create a framework for a more dystopian existence for citizens of all countries. With all of their movements being tracked constantly, the illusion of privacy that we’ve had until this point will be nonexistent. The only trouble with knowing the difference between when the government is overstepping their boundaries and when they are fulfilling their duties is the question of what is too far? Ultimately, that question can only be answered by the people, and what freedoms they are willing to sacrifice for security.
Singer, Natasha and Sang-Hun, Choe. “As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets.” The New York Times, Published 23 March 2020; Updated 17 April 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/technology/coronavirus-surveillance-tracking-privacy.html. Accessed 25 April 2020.