Public

Guess what? It’s 2010. Your privacy? It’s a big illusion.

I reveal a lot of stuff on the internet. Does it bother me? No. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. Regularly. If you Google my name, you find my blog, my Facebook and Twitter site, my LinkedIn account (which I don’t update), and my actual work website. From there, you can find out my work email address, not to mention the physical location of where I work, and my direct phone number. There’s even a picture in case you don’t know what I look like.

I hate that picture. Don’t go looking for it.

If you bother to go to the next few pages of search results, you’ll find all kinds of blog comments I’ve made (boring), and a picture of my kids in The Baltimore Sun from last December. I’m not revealing state secrets here — it’s right there on the web. There’s nothing I can do about it.

You keep going? You’ll find my home address eventually, along with the taxation value of my home. You’ll find my maiden name, and how fast I ran my leg of the relay in the 2005 Baltimore Marathon.

You won’t find my cell phone number, though, which I find odd. Cell phone numbers never show up anywhere.

My mom is kind of a freak about privacy. She tears her address off junk mail before throwing it away. Her address. You know, the street number that’s right on the front of her house. Did you know that in Anne Arundel County, you can look up anyone’s water bill or property tax notice? You don’t even know their name. Just their street number and road name.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I read this article in The Baltimore Sun. Since I know people don’t like clicking on links (I mean, why would you want to leave my blog??), I’ll just sum up. Some guy bought a motorcycle, along with a helmet with a video camera mounted on it. He was acting like a tool on I-95 and driving like a maniac, and a plainclothes police officer (in an unmarked car) pulled him over.

The guy recorded the whole interaction. Then he posted it on YouTube. (I know you all want to see that, so it’s at the end of this entry.)

The cops had a problem with it. (Hey, I get it.)

They arrested him and searched his place. They pressed some serious charges, and the guy was looking at real jail time, as well as losing his job and government security clearance.

This went to court, and the guy won.

Here’s the thing: everyone has a camera nowadays. We have no right to expect privacy from anyone else — especially if we’re working in a public capacity like a police officer. I have a friend who doesn’t want any pictures of herself on the Internet. She doesn’t have a Facebook account, and when I once posted some pictures on Facebook that included her, she asked me to take them down.

But unfortunately, she doesn’t know everyone who was at that party, so she can’t ask them all to take her pictures down. And they’re all up there. All over the place. I’m sure people have pictures of me that I’m not aware of. I’ve been captured in videos and found them on the web later. It’s life. It’s 2010.

There’s a pretty steep learning curve here. I discussed this with my husband the other night, and I said, “I think this will affect human behavior for the better. As more and more people are caught on tape doing bad things, people will realize they need to be aware of what they’re doing.”

He said, “No, it will make things worse. Just like this jackass who was driving on I-95 and doing wheelies just because he had a camera on his helmet.”

I hope I’m right.

But unfortunately, I think he is. Just today, I read an article about a college student who killed himself after his roommate activated his webcam remotely, then posted the poor, unsuspecting kid’s private, intimate moments on the web.

What do you guys think? As privacy becomes more of an illusion, are people going to continue acting like idiots? Or are we just going to be more aware of it because of the prevalence of information?

You know, information that’s available, right here on the Internet.


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One thought on “Public

  1. My take on privacy and the internet is… eventually everyone’s private stuff will be online, and it won’t be a big deal. Years ago it was exciting and scary to be able to look up someone’s address. Now it’s like ‘meh’.

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