Privacy and the Government

Quaid and the Martian Government:

The Martian government erases Quaid’s memories about his service on Mars and sets up a fake life for him on Earth. Before releasing him, they put a tracker inside of his skull. This is an example of the government using available technology to invade on the privacy of people. The government shows that they have the power to implant trackers and bugs into people’s heads and erase the memory of the implant. The victim’s location and conversations could then be traced and recorded with the implanted tracker and bug.

The situation Quaid is in is very similar to the privacy laws in the United States. Under the US PATRIOT Act, federal departments have the ability to wiretap conversations in order to prevent terrorism. The tracking device on Quaid is similar to the wiretaps since both governments are trying to obtain personal information about a citizen without their knowledge. The governments also both justify the need for personal information since the citizen is a potential threat to the government and other citizens.

Subway Scanners:

The subways in this world are fitted with scanners that can detect if a person is carrying a weapon. In the movie, the scanners only showed a person’s skeleton and their firearm if there was one. The fact that the scanner could isolate the firearm on the scanner’s image means that any item inside a bag or on a person could be looked at. This is a privacy issue because other people could be looking at the scans as people pass through. The security officers are justified in looking at scans of people because they are responsible for preventing dangerous people from travelling on the subway. However, the screen is very large, and it is possible for non-authorized people to look at people’s scans. The people looking at the scans are obtaining non-public personal information about the people being scanned without their consent, which is an invasion of privacy.

The people are also nonchalantly passing through the scanner. These people know that the scanner has the capability of revealing information about their body and belongings that the security officers do not need to know in order to maintain safety. While this may just be out of convenience for the movie, it suggests the idea that people in this world are used to being spied on, and that the information gathered by the security officers does not offend them.