Tag Archive | "privacy"

The Spy Who Stung Me: Privacy in a World of Miniature Drones

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What’s a hired assassin to do?  Once, like the fictional James Bond, among government’s most secret and prized resources with a “license to kill,” it seems that government-employed killers are just the latest to succumb to automation technology.  As drone technology improves, trained professional killers will likely hit the unemployment lines en masse.

 

But, don’t rest easy simply because you’re not on a government kill list.  Drone technology is also a terrific means of spying.  This, of course, is a boon to dictators and repressive regimes around the world.  Even, in the good U.S.A., however, this should be a cause for concern.

 

Pictured above is a drone designed to look like a mosquito, complete with the ability to use its stinger to extract DNA, deliver a lethal dose of poison, capture images or video, or to place a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking device on your clothing or skin.

 

As technology advances, the once fictional world of “Big Brother” comes ever closer to reality.  And, as costs decline, this technology may be available to nosy neighbors, suspicious spouses, or virtually anyone with the desire to snoop on others or perhaps, perform a more nefarious act.

 

In the words of the title song from the James Bond motion picture The Spy Who Loved Me, “Nobody does it better.”  That still may be true.  But, move over James, you’re about to be replaced by a mosquito!

 

 

The Usual Suspects

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The adage “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion” is an expression asserting that individuals in lofty positions need not only be pure in actuality, but also in the common perception.  While the state of being “above suspicion” may have been possible in simpler days gone by, it is a virtual impossibility today – just ask celebrities including Tiger Woods, Lindsey Lohan, or Paris Hilton, or politicians such as Bill Clinton or Mark Sanford.


With advanced technology, our lives have never been so much a matter of record as they are today.  Our births, medical histories, education, career progression, purchases, and income data are all a part of one informational repository or another.  Although the data may be widely dispersed, how long will it be before all of that information will be compiled, categorized, and classified in one master record of each of our lives?  Nor is privacy guaranteed even in our bedrooms – just ask the Rutgers University student recently videoed having sex in his dorm room on a camera hidden by fellow students.


The English novelist and satirist William Makepeace Thackeray advanced the notion that “there’s a skeleton in every closet;” that is, each of us, no matter how well he or she maintains appearances, has a well-hidden secret.  And, as technological advances make our lives digital “open books,” all of our hidden secrets are becoming increasingly discoverable.


While the numbers of those interested in discovering the secrets of the common person are more limited, those in the public eye are the continual target of sleuthing activities by professional or political adversaries, legitimate journalists, gossip columnists, and an ever more inquisitive public.  With the juicy details only mouse clicks away, even the most deeply buried secrets will ultimately reveal themselves to their dogged investigators.


Thus, in today’s society and that of the foreseeable future, it appears that Caesar would never marry for fear that his wife – like virtually anyone and everyone – could not remain “above suspicion.”  And, if we have come to a point at which individual freedoms and dignity are bounded by the perceptions of a fickle public, it is a sad commentary on the erosion of personal rights of privacy.  With little or no privacy, we all become the “usual suspects.”

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