Inquiring Minds Want To Know!

By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press

Psst! Hard to keep a secret these days. Your privacy has become everyone’s domain, and outfits like Google, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and others are making your personal space their business. Then there’s the government, the menacing older sibling, the Big Brother who’s watching your every move where possible — and sophisticated new technologies have made the possible more probable. The party line is just that these days: the government, as evidenced by the Bush administration’s contentious emergency surveillance, may be tapping in.

Wrong numbers and suspected plots to blow up the universe may be no more than the tawdry details of a night on the town.

And don’t try to hide behind e-mail, a firewall is as impervious as tracing paper. The government claims it can subpoena stored copies of your e-mails, and last month the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati conceded to the government’s request for a full-panel hearing on the issue, writes Mark Rasch online in The Register.

Bare all, literally, as there is hardly a Puritan among us today. “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, poet and novelist, once wrote. Wilde might have thought otherwise if he had lived in a glass-cubed, “curtains-optional” condominium or apartment in Manhattan where “urban exhibitionism” is the rage. In its Sunday edition, The New York Times offered an intimate “Yours for the Peeping” gaze at a proposed glass-walled condominium tower to be built in Manhattan’s financial district in 2009. The expansive glass walls of “W Downtown” will “allow … residents to see, and be seen by, passers-by” below.

“Goldfish, by inclination, at home in a YouTube, Facebook glass-apartment world,” the Times notes.

So, what’s all the fuss? If someone wants to shows all, who cares?

Depends on who’s watching — whether it’s shadowing the streets below, stalking the Internet or Uncle Sam with too much time on its hands.

“Our right to be left alone has disappeared, bit by bit, in little brotherly steps,” suggests Time Magazine, noting that technology and culture may have “outpaced the law.” “The technology is getting ahead of our ethics,” Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired Magazine, is quoted in Time as saying. “What’s gone out of whack is we don’t know who knows about us anymore. Privacy has become asymmetrical.”

Some have called for tougher legal restrictions to safeguard privacy, but others fear that could open Pandora’s Box. And, in a voyeuristic society, many can’t wait to see what’s in the box. So, beware — eyes wide open. Big brother, sister, mother and father are all watching your every move. Inquiring minds want to know!

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