Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is Big Brother Watching?

"If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find in them something to hang him."
- The Infamous Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu

The issues of privacy, particularly on the Internet are being raised by many people around the world. It was once again brought to my attention by a very thoughtful article over at Ars Technica.

No one seems to care that our every day activities are under constant surveillance not only physically by security cameras but virtually as well. Information is collected in many ways: from information freely given on Social Networking Sites, to information gleaned invisibly and compiled via Internet searches. Whether we like it or not we give away our personal information in both purposeful and unintended ways. This information is then stored for future use by everyone from advertising agencies to Governmental organizations. And it's passed around indiscriminately.

I'm all about living transparently but if I do a Google search for pornography sites to block in my firewall I'd rather not have that be a criteria which advertisers will use to pigeon hole me with in the future.

Perhaps surprisingly the most vocal advocates for privacy rights in a digital age is the
American Library Association. They ask: Is it time for a Revolution?

According to their
Privacy Concept Paper:

"Librarians feel a professional responsibility to set the standard for intellectual privacy rights in America, at a time when virtually nothing is considered confidential."
They want America to commit to information privacy, and that's not such a bad idea. The ALA addresses the very American idea of Intellectual Freedom:

“Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”—Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A

As Christians, and Americans these issues are something that we should feel passionate about.

I urge everyone to dedicate a little time to become familiar with Privacy Issues and a great place to start is the American Library Association.

Other Privacy sites and advocates:

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