Thursday, June 28, 2012

So Long, Privacy, It Was Nice Knowing You

One of the things in the list of Nine Things that Will Disappear during our lifetime was privacy. I hate to say it, but it's gone already. In the name of national security, government agencies scan emails and other electronic media and who knows what else. Now, I don't think I'm paranoid and I don't expect the black government helicopters to come swooping down on my cul-de-sac at any moment, but we are pretty much surveilled 24/7/365.

Take security cameras, for example. They are truly ubiquituous and we don't even think about them. This was brought home to me recently when I went to take a pair of slacks back for my dad which were the wrong size. I exchanged them for a pait the correct size and the clerk offered to put them in a bag for me. I said I didn't need a bag, thank you, and she allowed as how the security cameras would pick up the fact that I was carrying something out of the store which was not in a bag and register it as a theft.

Well. I didn't even think about security cameras. They can be useful when a child is abducted or a crime has been committed, but we're all pretty much on Candid Camera when we go out.

Information is collected on us when we go on the internet. Have you ever noticed that the ads online change according to what you're looking for or in my case, writing about? Someone's watching and it ain't Santa Claus.

I also am concerned that drones are going to be used domestically for law enforcement. I know that they will be a tremendous asset to the police, but I worry about abuse of their surveillance capabilities. The New Yorker had an article on the domestic use of drones recently, and one of the major takeaways for me was the number of ways their abilities can be abused. I just hope there are clear and stringent guidelines for their use and that someone with ill intent doesn't get hold of a Predator equipped with a Hellfire missile. We wouldn't know what hit us.

I found the movie Minority Report to be the most chilling one I had seen in a long time. In that dystopian vision of the future, citizens can be arrested for crimes they haven't committed yet. Sure, it's secure, but what privacy? It looks like the brave new world that we are rapidly attaining, if we haven't already.

So, what is there to do but when we go out, mind our p's and q's and smile and wave! We're on camera and someone is watching!

1 comment:

  1. I've known for a long time that I'm being tracked. Since I can't do anything about it, there's no point in writing to the authorities because they ARE the authorities.

    If cameras, the internet, etc. were just used for research and record keeping, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, there are always those who overstep their authority and/or use information for selfish means, which is why the public has a fit about privacy. If we could trust people to do the right thing with information, then it wouldn't matter how many cameras were around. The cameras aren't the problem. The people running the cameras often are.