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Privacy and the (Not So) Human Race

What is it with technology and common sense these days?

Shalini Richards
MQ Editor
It seems every time a new piece of technology is introduced it flies in the face of common sense. Take the cell phone for example. Remember a hundred years ago when the cell phone was first introduced, for starters you certainly couldnít put it in your pocket, and unless you were carrying a knapsack as a purse it wouldnít fit. But remember the simple concept it was introduced for: To be able to communicate in emergency situations. Now; itís used for everything from harassing teachers in class (since every kid over the age of 3 seems to have a cell phone), to making crappy drivers worse, to invading the privacy of others by being able to take pictures wherever and whenever the owner wants.

I think of the confidential information flying around on a daily basis and I wonder why isnít anyone using their common sense when it comes to technology? I have yet to see a sign at my bank banning photo phones (my term), or the stores I shop in, or even the gym I go to. Come to think of it, the grade school my niece and nephew go to donít have any signs up banning photo phone use eitherÖwhoís out there taking pictures of the kids on the playground?

Just think of the potential damage a photo phone could do. We have heard many cases in the US of phones being banned in locker rooms and schools. Think of the private and confidential information you deal with on a daily basis in your job, especially if you work in Human Resources. There is no telling what information about you, or pictures of you, are on the internet or on someoneís hard drive at home. Thatís a pretty scary thought.

I read somewhere that South Korea, which has the largest number of cell phone users, is drafting regulation to protect consumer privacy; apparently the US is planning on doing the same thing. They are planning on having the photo phones installed with an alarm so that if someone intends on taking a picture a loud alarm will sound warning the subject of the photograph. What a novel idea, lets regulate something that could potentially destroy all elements of privacy for human kind. But of course like with any technology there is always someone out there trying to make things worse. Apparently hackers have already devised a way to bypass the alarm, so back to the drawing board.

The UK privacy watchdog, Privacy International is calling on manufacturers of photo phones to emit a bright default flash when a picture is taken. Another great idea, but isnít the picture already taken when the flash goes off and in a nanosecond can be sent over the airwaves to an internet site?

I think maybe this whole photo phone thing says more about the insensitivity for the human race than it does about technology. The concept of treating others as you would like to be treated is chucked out the window with the audacity of others taking my picture without my permission. Why do people think its okay to violate the rights of other people?

So remember the next time you see a little pig with a red bow on its head, take a picture, but try a camera instead of your phone, or better yet, use your phone to call someone and tell them about it.


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