Preface to this section:

The movie Circle showed that privacy is only a concern when there is an inequality of privacy. Meaning if everyone lacks privacy then it no longer becomes a concern or a right of the individual and that through complete openness we can rid the world of damaging secrets and unethical plans. Therefore, this section will highlight how each instance of a privacy violation within the movie is resolved through a greater sense of transparency and a more open world.

The introduction of the See-change cameras

Placing a network of hidden cameras around the planet to continuously monitor everyone and everything represents a gross invasion of privacy for the individual. These cameras in public property do not infringe upon the individual, however, it is their stealth and placement in a vast quantity of locations means the Circle has the ability to monitor all citizens.  This means that citizens can utilize the data and images to improve their own life, such as checking traffic or weather in real time. If every citizen is monitored then all of their actions become public. In the movie, Mae makes the argument that people behave in better manner when watched. Therefore, it goes to reason that if everyone is watched then humanity will behave better.

Spying on Mae’s activities, making her to register a company social account,and put in all her personal information.

When Mae begins working at the Circle, she is heavily encouraged to create a company social media account. When encouraging her to create an account they utilize confidential information, such as her father’s MS, to convince her. This is violation of her privacy in the beginning as it reveals private medical information about her family, however, this information is used to promote medical treatment fro the father. Additionally, Mae is reluctant to use social media at first, however, after a while she embraces it, by becoming the first person to broadcast their entire life.

Congresswoman Santos plans on disclosing everything including emails and phone calls which can potentially violate other people’s privacy.

If/When Congresswoman Santos releases all of this information, some of it will be confidential to her and therefore her right to release. However, for her to release all of her communication, inevitably means that other individuals information will be released to the public. In doing this congresswoman Santos treats her coworkers as a means to the end of getting elected, while simultaneously disregarding their right to privacy. However, as elected agents of the people, they have to answer to actions in a public forum. If their private accounts contain damaging information, which the public would not approve of, then they should face the consequences, rather than hide their information. If they released their information voluntarily, then congresswoman Santos would not violate their privacy and subsequently the citizens would have more reliable politicians.

Mae posts an image of a chandelier Mercer created

When Mae takes a picture of Mercer’s Chandelier, she violates his privacy and his to protect and distribute his work. However, she does not do this out bad/selfish intentions, instead she does because she wants to boast of the quality of Mercer’s work, essentially praising him. After posting the image, Mercer confronts her, quickly stating how he hadn’t ever really been online and now he was receiving death threats. It’s this quick change that disrupts Mercer’s life rather than the actual image being posted. If Mercer was active online prior to the image being posted, he would tried to utilize the free publicity for his work, and he would have been used to the notion of death threats. In reference to the frequency of hate messages, in 2015 the premier soccer League received 16.8K discriminatory messages every month [1]. If Mercer was active online, the notion of death threats would not have been a primary concern for him as they would be trivial in quantity. His reaction is due to this being his first experience with social media, rather than the media itself.

Child Track: A system for tracking and monitoring the safety of children

This is a proposed system for tracking children by placing implants in their bone. The propose of this system is to prevent/limit child abduction. While this can be seen as violation of the child’s right to consent to non medically necessary procedures, it can also be seen as a virtuous action of the parents. Ideally, all parents want to protect their children from danger and that in and of itself is a noble cause. However, protecting children from the threat of child abduction is very difficult. In a standard child abduction the police consider the first 3 hours to be crucial to save the child’s life. However, under 20% of Amber Alerts find the child in under 3 hours [2]. This means our current system for tracking children is not effective enough. Therefore, it can be seen as a protective decision to have a tracking implant in your children, allowing them to always be found.

Mae viewing the parents having sex while she is transparent 

In the movie Mae starts each day by contacting her parents, she does this with the SeeChange cameras to essentially Skype with them. However, at one point she can’t find her parents and begins flipping through various camera feeds in the house. Eventually, she finds them having sex and proceeds to transmit that through her own cameras globally. In the first portion of the movie, the Mae’s parent consent to having SeeChange cameras placed through out their home. They also agree to having medical testing done, to help with the father’s MS. The SeeChange cameras have the capability to be seen by anyone within the Circle and therefore already broadcast globally. Additionally, Mae does the same, via her transparency, however, she has a noticeable audience. Secondly, the SeeChange cameras can be turned off whenever the parents desired. Therefore, in this scenario, if the parents wanted privacy they should have turned off their cameras. In the absence of turning off the cameras they began broadcasting their actions to the world. When Mae views the cameras and rebroadcasts the images displayed, she is not changing or altering their consent.

Release of Private documents

Senator Williamson:

Early in the movie, Senator Williamson is shown the television as starting an investigation into the Circle and their violations of antitrust laws. Later in the movie it is revealed that her private accounts have been leaked, and now she is under investigation. The movie eludes to this being a purposeful release of information, which was orchestrated by Tom Stetton the COO of the Circle. When Tom releases her private documents he violates her privacy, and in the process destroys her career. In this way Tom disregards the Senator all together, so that he can increase his own power.

Eamon Bailey and Tom Stetton:

At the end of the movie, Mae releases all information and accounts held by the company leaders for the public to see. While the contents of the accounts are never discussed the implication is that they are severely damaging. When she releases the documents, she treats the company owners as a path to her ultimate goals, rather than as their own people. While it could be argued that what she did was for the greater good, ridding the company of corruption, she violated the rights of Eamon Bailey and Tom Stetton in the process.

In both of these cases it is the release of damaging information that is a concern to the individuals. However, if they were already transparent or operated in an ethical manner then the release should not have been a concern. Secondly, both sets of people are in positions where they should be held accountable by the public. The Senator being a politician, is an elected official, while Eamon and Tom are asking the public to give up their data freely while they refuse. In both cases openness prior to the release would have been prevented both circumstances from being of concern.


[2]Bateson, M., Nettle, D., & Roberts, G. (2006). Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology letters, 2(3), 412-414.





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