Imagine entering a room and being told that no one can listen to you and the walls are soundproof. You even check if a mic is hiding somewhere, but you find none.

So you invite someone else to join you in the room, and the conversation starts flowing. Your acquaintance is friendly, and you both feel cocooned in the soundproofed, quiet and private room you are in.

Feeling unrestricted, you discuss your health, your private life, sentimental life, political views. Your friend mentions worries about the tax man. You admit being worried about that one fling. Both of you feel relieved for having talked frankly to a friend. “In my country, I could be prosecuted for what I’ve done,” is in the back of your mind.

Then you hear a voice from the outside. They tell you they actually do have a mic in the room, and the walls aren’t that thick. The mic can be operated from the outside, turned on and off, whenever they need to. And the information can be transmitted wherever it is needed. But worry not. They haven’t ever used it.