Friday, March 29, 2013

Privacy is the era of Facebook

Here's an interesting story: reports that the New York Police Department is using facial recognition technology to match photos of suspects with images in online databases like Facebook and Instagram.
In what might seem to be a totally unrelated story, you have Glenn Greenwald trying to scare the shit out of people because their right to privacy is about to be obliterated due to surveillance drones.
In sum, surveillance drones enable a pervasive, stealth and constantly hovering Surveillance State that is now well beyond the technological and financial abilities of law enforcement agencies.
I ran across the article by Al Giordano that I used in the post below because I was looking for something he said about all this in Facebook, Privacy, and The New Exhibitionism.
The democratization of public or semi-public exhibitionism has thrown traditional concerns about “personal privacy” out the window. Who needs the CIA anymore when everybody is out there blurting the kinds of secrets it used to take surveillance to discover? Privacy didn’t disappear because Big Brother took it away. We gave it away! Freely! It fell aside to a greater impulse: the need to expose ourselves in public, to have an audience, and to keep it.

There are still, in this day and age, people who are truly clandestine, who really do dangerous and exciting or felonious things out there in the real world. Most of them are either very poor or very rich and therefore are "off the grid" by circumstance or by fortress. But typically, they are not on Facebook. Or, if they are, they kept that stuff carefully cloaked all along, much in the way that a fugitive from justice will never run a red light or break the speed limit.

The rest of us might yearn for days gone by when privacy existed, but the impulse to expose ourselves has simply proved a stronger human instinct. To every man and woman, a stage, and an audience: Welcome to the New Exhibitionism!
Perhaps its just me, but I find that Giordano is raising much more pertinent questions related to the times we actually live in. In other words, I'm not so sure that privacy means the same thing to people today that it did in the past. If that's the case, then we should be having a conversation about privacy rights in the context of what it means today.

The same thing can be said about what it means to have a discussion about war powers in an age of terrorism and insurgencies rather than world wars.

This is exactly why I miss Al Giordano's commentary on U.S. politics so much. Even though he trumps many of the poutragers in age (or perhaps because of it), he seems to always grasp the zeitgeist of our times so much better than they do.


  1. One of the major reasons I've never had any interest in joining Facebook or similar services is their privacy policies. It's not just that you're handing tons of information to them to use for selling advertising - or to sell to advertisers - but it's virtually impossible to "lock down" your account.

    I also think that we haven't seriously considered the ramifications of that openness, particularly regarding young people. I know I wasn't any angel, or particularly bright, as a teen or in my early 20's, but all my "sins" are just memories or some stories my friends and family might tell if they want to embarrass me. They've never had an impact outside of that. These days, the technology enables you to share your idiocy with the world, and it's around for a very long time - and it will have consequences down the line.

  2. Leave it to Al Giordano to cut through the bulls**t and tell it like it is, while Greenwald can only run around in a blind panic of sound and fury signifying nothing. While missing the forest for the trees, I should add.