Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him

Privacy as we know it is dead and we can’t get it back. This delights corporations and Governments but at the same time they only enjoy you having lack of privacy. Will google say where your GMail is stored, will they say what exactly they are telling advertisers about you? No. Will the Government disclose what they are planning to do with your taxmoney or to do with your freedoms? No. In fact they are trying to destroy the whole idea of Freedom of Information, even the Information Commissioner says so. So all this privacy does not mean global transparency.

Civil Liberties

Some thoughts on aspects of privacy:

We don’t disclose your details to third parties but …

Google of course does not disclose ALL your data to advertisers or others and what they mean is, they won’t disclose your name and address or IP address but with their fantastic processing power and sharp minds, the following scenario is a nice sleight of hand from them:

Well, we can’t tell you who he is or what his exact address is but we can say that he seems to spend a lot of time looking at this map location on Google maps. He has done searches for “playgrounds near East Douglas” so there is a strong possibility he is there, which corrolates with the map. He has a satellite dish on the house since he has searched a few times on how to tune in extra channels on the sky box. He’s married and his wife’s birthday is probably around June 5th since he googled for “wife birthday present” on June 1st this year and last year and then Googled for a florist too as well as “lines of poetry that a wife will like”. He has a 1985 Golf GTi, judging by his searches for parts information and tips on fine tuning engines. Oh look, that looks like a GTi on the map doesn’t it, just there?

I’m sure my example will probably have more people from Google Dublin harass me once again, lovely company to deal with.

“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.” – Cardinal Richelieu. The more you know about a person and their every goings on, the more you can work with moulding the public conscious about them. Look at how the Phoenix Magazine works or the other tabloids. Imagine handing over all your once-private details and telling them to write a few headlines. Imagine a bent cop or someone in the social welfare office doing this. Donegal shows it happened as does Dolores O’Mahony. we don’t need tabloids anymore, a few bitter bloggers scouring everywhere for information on people and plenty of innuendo on a person can go out. We all accept identity fraud happens, can we accept it is easier than ever for some headcase to get all nutso and make you the subject of a gossip blog?

You don’t have to use our service you know

Ah yes, the general arrogant and ignorant attitude of a monopoloy and a diversion from the actual issue. The fact that people are slow to move from using one service to another means that monopolies often use lack of action of a customer as justification for doing whatever the hell they want. “Our prices are more expensive yet most people are still with us, this shows we offer a great service and our customers want us to do whatever we want.” Being the monopoly should make you realise that the amount of data you have all in one place is quite an honour and a burden and you should proactively work on making sure it is safe as well as being transparent on how you are handling it and what you do with it. I haven’t seen any corporation or company or Government acknowledge such a thing. Telling a customer to piss off when they complain about the service, free or not is sad and will bite you in the ass one day.

The kids have ruined it all for us

But maybe it doesn’t matter afterall? The Bebo generation has done more to mess with privacy than anything before them, even corporations and Governments. Photos, antics, comments, tonnes of personal information stuck up on Bebo, on Facebook, on mySpace on blogs scattered around the earth. Not caring where it is and not caring about trying to reel it all back in. The adults are going ape over this but the kids just shrug and go “what are you going to do like?”. Perhaps if all this information is out there from everyone, nobody will give a damn about the personal life of anyone. It’d be nice for politicians not to be closeted for a start and it would be nice if businesses didn’t have to fire staff for being stupid because god knows it’s not some rare quality. And then there’s the whole breakups being done publicly on blogs.

Britney and money shots have changed it all too

Britney Money shot

Sex tapes? Pammy and Tommy started it all. Then there was the Paris one, the Colin one, the Britney one and the who cares anymore? one. Nudey pics, everyone really. It also seemed to become a sport for Paris, Britney, Lindsey Lohan and so many more of the female celebs to exit a limo legs first and apart, showing off what should not be shown off. Now we’ve all seen too much and so when Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical had nude pics of her taken and then got online, Disney, the most prudish of companies, didn’t fire her. A star of a kiddies movie franchise (High School Musical) did NOT get fired over this. She would have been blacklisted a few years ago but not now. Disney came out and gave her their support.

You can’t be blackmailed if everyone knows your business, right?

A friend of mine told me he saw some docu on privacy, on Google Video as it happens and a detective in the docu pointed out that the information you can grab off Bebo today, he would have had to pay a few grand for in the 80s. Same goes for Facebook and loads of other places. But if that information, lots of it which can be used to blackmail people is in the public domain, will blackmail exist in the future? How about if it was known someone had an STD? Bad for them right, but good for any future sexual partners? Judges in the Norris case way back when said public health issues (filthy homosexuality) overruled privacy issues so that’s why they could jail men for having sex with men. This is an interesting twist. If we’re all going to be contestants in 24 hour reality shows, perhaps the information overload and scandal overload will mean people can’t be embarassed and made fun of? “So what, you failed your driving test twice.” “Wow, nudey pics of me, how rare when nude is the new black.”

But if we can’t be blackmailed we can’t lie either or exaggerate or truth bend

And that’s good right? I got a D in Honours Irish, not a C like I said. No, I worked as a general office clerk, not a team leader. Yes I was convicted of driving down the wrong way of a motorway after builders flirted with me at the Galway Races. Is this good? Surely lack of privacy is making us a more honest society? There are no secrets, only information we do not yet have. Except for those databases in the hands of the private companies and the Governments of course. Is privacy allowing them to be not so honest with things? Behind their big safe walls while we, the people, disclose everything?

Phone cams and the net have created a new wave of civil liberties

A black kid gets her wrist broken by a white security guard in her school because she dropped a cake. The school has her charged. The video a student takes on his cameraphone hits the net. Case closed? Student being tasered. Cops being bad cops, Governments clamping down on their people in Asia. For the greater good? But what about when the video a guy takes of a fellow male student crying for some unknown reason hits the net and a million people laugh at him and make parodies. Like that Star Wars kid. How do you allow one and stop the other? Or do we need to wait until humans are a little less cruel?

Lifestreaming means we leave digital crumbs online as we go throught he physical world.

Great for missing kids. Not so great if you’d rather be left alone. How do we opt out of an always connected, always recording world? We can’t, unless we want to move to the country, deep deep inside rural Ireland. Will we have “digital recording free zones”?

The backlash, will we have our own Victorian Era for privacy?

There’s always a backlash with these things, will there be one for privacy? Will people do their best to protect their kids and prevent them going online and using Bebo and whatever else is there? Will they have specialist services running to monitor mentions of their kids and auto-legal-letter anyone that mentions their kids? Will there be something like the DMCA but for concerned parents worried about the privacy of their kids? I bet there’s money to be made in that. A lot of it. Encourage the liberalisation of prrivacy. Create a service, ready to roll out when the backlash happens that is built for cloaking all information and preventing it getting out. Sell to an anti-virus company, privacy will be their next business and DRM will be back with an almighty vengeance. Make sure that your kids can’t pass photos from their phones to others without going through your pre-approved monitoring system. Same goes for moving stuff from their home computers and laptops to the net. Have software running that scans for what could be potential nude photos. Install all this, spend a fortune and have your kid route around it all within minutes because they are more savvy about this stuff than you and always will be.

What’s the future of privacy?

Probably one where we have a lot less of it and where Governments and corporations will have it in abundance. To protect it you will probably have to take out privacy insurance the same way you have to take out private health insurance now. The Governments don’t seem to bothered about your privacy do they and the corporations are helping to make the public believe in the perverted mantra that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about. Oh right, was I meant to end this on a happy note?

11 Responses to “Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him”

  1. Gerry says:

    So are you going to post the link to the nude pictures of yourself Damien?

  2. Branedy says:

    You can’t be blackmailed if everyone knows your business, right?
    and even if you know someone is a crook, you can’t remove them from office 😉

  3. Gamma Goblin says:

    I have nude pictures of Damien if you really want them Gerry 🙂

  4. Really good post Damien….*frantically scours internet*

  5. Philip says:

    It’s not just the young who shrug their shoulders. Middle-aged weekend shoppers to New York etc blithely have their iris and fingerprints taken as if it were no big deal. Some even think it makes them safer though they can’t explain exactly why.

    Well, dear agent who’s scanning this, I’m not a terrorist or even a subversive, armchair or otherwise, but as that great American Johnny Cash once put it in his great song A Boy Named Sue:

    My name is Sue
    How do you do
    I’ve got a different point of view.

  6. Philip says:

    Great post and great quote, by the way

  7. Epic stuff.

    *frantically googles self*

  8. lexia says:

    One of my favourite posts this year. Loved it.

  9. PaulSweeney says:

    “Blackmail is just an arbitrage opportunity between exposure and full disclosure”….:)

  10. It begs the question of exactly how conscious we are in each of our societies doesn’t it? Not only are we unconscious of the negative but also of the positive – is this why most advertising is about escaping somehow be it through ipods or gaming consoles – so we don’t have to face the truth of what’s really going on? And again I have to say there are positives that we also choose to ignore…

    Great post Damien… Do you ever get tired of being aware?

  11. Ronan says:

    what I find interesting is that in the past people might have thought these sort of surveillance technologies would be foisted on society, or would be the tools of totalitarianism.

    now we can see that people actually gleefully sign up for various surveillance technologies, because they come as fun leisure pursuits.

    the benefits are interesting too though, I mean, if we approach a society where the net and computers become like an extra sense, ie something you carry around with you that is constantly informing you about where you are/who else is there/what is nearby, no matter how unfamiliar you are with a place, well that’s kind of fascinating and the ways it might bring people/information together are really mindboggling.