I’ve never had a problem with privacy. As a journalist I would and did happily publish information people would claim as private and you would happily read it. Indeed, usually the reason I’d write and you’d read this private detail was that it had been locked away for a reason, usually a damning one.
No, I’ve never had a problem with other people’s privacy, and it is more than coincidence that the private information you like to read is someone else’s.
I don’t have a problem with mine, either. There’s not much about me I haven’t told this paper’s readers over the decades, sometimes to my family’s dismay, and right now I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t disclose in the right circumstances. You might.
Privacy, I believe, is an outdated concept, and that can be seen in the fact that CCTV cameras are everywhere. Twenty years ago the Greens and other loonies were up in arms about proposals by councils to install CCTV cameras in public places. In Newcastle the Greens were livid red.
The privacy of everyone whose presence was recorded by these cameras would be invaded, they cried,and when they were pinned down some would argue that even the filming of someone committing a crime was an invasion of the criminal’s privacy. Innocent until proven guilty, they’d cry, or until we saw the film, I’d add.
Indeed, about this time civil libertarians (I call them criminal libertarians) were shrill with horror that a Sydney homeowner had posted on the internet good film of two burglars busy at work in his home, and their loudest squealing was for the fact that the burglars had been shamed.
Shaming, they said, was a punishment and it was not for the victim of a crime to punish the perpetrator. Punishment was a matter for only the court, they said.Now, happily, publishing video and photos of crims by police, media, businesses and individuals is commonplace, and wonderful.
I like to imagine the horror in the home of the fellow whose photo appears in the paper as a person police want to speak to about a bashing and robbery. The panic, the exploration of possible alibis, the frantic invention of witnesses who didn’t see him do nothing sir, the phone ringing every few minutes, then the loud knock on the door.
The privacy push used to argue that CCTV does not stop crime, and clearly it does not stop all crime, but catching criminals certainly reduces crime and CCTV footage helps police catch criminals every day. I believe the installation of high-definition CCTV should be a condition of every commercial council approval.
Years ago when I wrote about shopkeepers displaying photographs of people stealing in their shops, like shoving bottles of alcohol into their underpants, most told me that their losses to thieves were much reduced since they established the shoplifters’ gallery. Prospective thieves did not want their photo on display.
I have nothing to fear from CCTV, ever, and too bad if you do.
You have nothing to fear from the dashcam camera in my car, either, unless your version of a collision differs from the reality. Another reason I have a dashcam is to record my own driving and speed, which I know could be a two-edged sword, in case I am wrongly accused by police of speeding or other driving offences.Lately, too, police have been calling for film from dashcam owners who were driving in the vicinity of a serious crime.
We are filmed everywhere. On the street, in buildings both public and private, on the road, in service stations, on buses, in taxis, in banks, at ATMs, at shop counters, everywhere and often where you least suspect it.
Facial-recognition technology is coming to your, and my, neck of the woods, and I’m delighted about that.
One day banks, pubs and clubs, and real estate agencies among others will use the technology to know that the person walking through the door has a history of robbery, violence, fraud or, even, not paying rent. And just as police now use number plate scanning as a matter of routine they will, I hope, one day soon use face scanning as routinely.
Killers and rapists are now being caught by their relatives’ DNA, not their own. Young Johnny pays for a DNA profile to show his ethnic mix or the illnesses he is more likely than others to contract, police get DNA records from the profiling firm, police realise that someone very close to Johnny raped a woman 25 years ago. Bye bye Uncle Bob.
It is a thrilling invasion of criminals’ privacy.
Our computers record everything we do with them, and that information is often sold. Search the net for information about kayaks and soon you’ll be targeted by kayak sellers. Our plastic cards tell many organisations much about us and our preferences. ID scanning in such as licensed clubs tells more about us than our name and address.
And are you sure no one is hooked into your mobile phone, listening to your calls, reading your texts?
Do you care? I don’t.