Starting with the eye as the definition of self, artistically and symbolically in Part I, Eyes Looking Out, I am now in Part II looking at the issue of technology and privacy and wondering how this will alter our very sense of self, our soul and our way of seeing our identities and our world.
For our children, things will be and are dramatically, radically different, far more different than they already are, tech wise. Profound changes are altering us in ways that are complex and scary and unfathomable. Like the kohl used for protection around eyes long ago and today (this kohl-lined eye at right is from an Egyptian sarcophagus in the Met), what firewalls or metaphorical kohl and protections will we have? What will we give up for convenience, for safety, for security and what are the long-term implications?
Advertisers want to know what our eyes pays attention to so measurement of viewers and these stats are important. How is your attention tracked? Who is paying attention to what you are paying attention to? Who is watching you? I've bought Google stock as I believe they are ahead of the game in online advertising and profiting from this. Other businesses are coming online to measure and collect information as online advertising is slated to take off in astronomical numbers. Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang sees the $45 billion online advertising market projected to grow $75 billion in 2010. The government has privatized and outsourced data mining and collection. Googlers say old media isn't dead, it just has to be Google-ized. I've been paying attention to the Microsoft/Yahoo merger deal and mobile trends. iPhone has quickly captured a third of the global market and Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T for the phones - at least in the U.S. AT&T can monitor all cell phone data and has done this and is wanting immunity for protection against the illegalities of this.
RFID (radio frequency ID) technology has huge implications for us. It is already used in chips implanted in dogs for IDs. Think if they were in our cellphones. Shoot, maybe they are already. From 1955 to 2005, cumulative sales of radio tags totaled 2.4 billion; last year alone, 2.24 billion tags were sold worldwide. In 2003 Wal-Mart started using RFID and the government is placing RIFD tags in passports starting this year. RealID is part of the majority of the nation's plans to identify us beyond social security numbers in all new state drivers licenses. New Mexico is one state complying with the new laws to identify everyone through driver's licenses in implementing RealID starting this year. I think only five states are not.
Digging deep in following my interest in media (media theorist Marshall McLuhan said decades ago "The Medium is the Message" and he saw media as extensions of man and this was decades before the new media technology evolved. Nicholas Carr writes on how tools become parts of us - extensions of our bodies (I think smart phones, mobile phones and how cell phones are "worn" like a new appendage and are our new tools of operation). Well, specifically Carr wrote about how tools are extensions of the bodies of monkeys. He cites a new study by a team of Italian researchers that suggest the minds of primates conceive tools as body parts. He has this quote: "An archeologist at University College London says the study "fairly clearly show that monkey tool use involves the incorporation of tools into the body schema, literally as extensions of the body." But Carr concludes that unlike monkeys, we know the difference between our body and the tech tool, at once embracing it and keeping it at arm's length. I don't know. I think it becomes ubiquitous and we embrace these tech conveniences blindly without knowing how they are altering us.
Here's where Marshall McLuhan's idea of media as extensions of man becomes highly prescient in terms of how we are using today's tech tools. I think of this in terms of the iPhone that I played with recently in the Apple Store that can posit my location or give me information I need to find, or of my Treo that keeps my notes and numbers and information so I don't clutter my memory. The question I think of in regards to this is how are these tools changing the way we think? How we live? How are they changing us?
Creepy, Scary: How are these tools changing us as they are used by others? I received an email, deemed creepy by the sender, about this site -- Global Incident Map -- a display of terror and other suspicious events occuring around the world and updated continuously. Really, go check out that link and see if you are newfangledly weirded out.*
When you know that satellites can see everything, zoom in (Google Maps)
and how information can be mashed together and compounded, how GPS can
track geographic location and is embedded in cars and phones then now,
you must realize that we, you and I, are in a surveillance society. 2007 Privacy Rankings categorize the U.S. is an "endemic surveillance society" and in terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the U.S. is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. Biometric data is being collected in our country: Iris, Face and Fingerprint Scans are being databased by FBI.
Ramifications of the Patriot Act in this data all-knowing world? Well, technology and world conditions and security and protection and privacy and data mining -- all of these events are so far ahead of legalities that it is confusing to understand all of the implications. Well, I got into these issues somewhat in an earlier ramble this Fall on Google and Privacy. But I've kept on mulling implications. As with the invention of the printing press, long-term implications are harder to understand than short-term changes in technology.
Before Super Tuesday, as I read an article online at the Washington
Post, two ads popped up as I clicked on a political story about
candidates in the presidential primaries. I clicked on to two of them:
1) an Anti-John McCain site parading as a "John McCain for President 2008" maintained by a dissatisfied Arizona constituent. 2) An ad for Hilllary Clinton wristbands. They were probably targeted to me via my ISP address as I enter
Washington Post allows which tailored advertising to me with my state
voting on Super Tuesday. That is a targeted ad not by zip code, but by ISP. WaPo has me registered as a female. No
ads from Republicans on the page. I wouldn't mind if advertising were
so ubiquitous that things I'm interested in were filtered from things I
could care less about. Amazon gives me recommendations based on my
interest. That works.
Institutionalized Spying on Americans by Stephen Lendman is an article I came across and he writes about and reviews two
police state tools (among many in use) in America. One is new,
undiscussed and largely unknown to the public. Gave me chills like reading Robert Ludlum does only this isn't spy fiction.
Surveillance technologies will continue to gain in capability -- and become more intrusive. Anyone can take a picture/video most anywhere in public and post it online like on YouTube or a blog. SURVEILLANCE -- NO FEDERAL RULES GOVERNING PUBLIC VIDEOS...was another article headline that caught my eye as I'm aware the U.K. has public cameras everywhere and someone's eyes are watching all. This is an example of how technologies and their implementations move way ahead of laws to contain and manage them. From that article: Supreme Court rulings suggest that individual freedoms are not violated by the placement of surveillance cameras, without a warrant, in public spaces. Unless audio recordings are paired with your image, it's unlikely that your privacy has been violated. As an increasingly sophisticated surveillance blanket covers more of the United States, we need federal laws to preserve an individual's right to privacy....
On the issue of privacy and data and legislation to manage this and civil liberties, I followed the issue regarding the Protect America Act and how the House let the act expire even though the Senate had passed an update/extension that included retroactive immunity for the telecoms. Amanda Carpenter of Townhall says the Dems oppose telecom immunity because they're beholden to trial lawyers "suing those phone companies." She continues, "Court records and campaign contribution data reveal that 66 trial lawyers representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against these phone companies donated at least $1.5 million to Democrats, including 44 current Democratic senators."
Do the nation's intelligence-gathering agencies need warrants --
from a secret court -- to snoop on suspected terrorists via
telecommunication facilities within the United States? The warrantless
spying has already occurred in a program the Bush administration
authorized following the Sept. 11 attacks. The president, as chief
commander, maintains the Constitution grants him such powers
notwithstanding the Fourth Amendment. After the law's expiration, the
government will retain substantial surveillance capability, and
classified orders allowing the monitoring of international telephone
calls, e-mail and other communications under the law are valid for a
year, so they will not expire before August so it is really about
telecom immunity. But it is more than that. It is our struggle to
find a balance between what we need as a society and a struggle to
understand these things. The eavesdropping authorizations under the law
continue for a year. Crucial decisions about civil liberties in an age
of terror shouldn't be driven by fear.
But we do live in an age of terror and fear, a perpetual
state of war with the enemy we've been primed against, a nebulous
enemy that we are constantly reminded is ready to harm us at anytime. We don't have those terror alert levels flashing on our tv screens anymore, notice that? Marshall McLuhan stressed the importance of awareness of a
medium's cognitive effects. He argues that, if we are not vigilant to
the effects of media's influence, the global village has the potential
to become a place where totalitarianism and terror rule. McLuhan, in
writing on media, argued that technology itself has no moral bent but
it is a tool that profoundly shapes an individual, and by extension, a
society's self-conception. When a campus shooting happened, our
president's televised comments were brief on that issue, and were used
as an introduction to equate this with larger fears of enemies, fear
Keith Olberman went on when these debates were raging. He has a way with words and I quote him because he captures the puzzles, riddles and enigmas that we struggle to understand behind much of the media maniuplation for soundbites: "In a presidency of hypocrisy — an administration of exploitation — a labyrinth of leadership — in which every vital fact is a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma hidden under a claim of executive privilege (the president is)... demanding an ex post facto law which would clear the phone giants from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive, and blatant collaboration with (the president's) illegal and unjustified spying on Americans, under the flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists..." Is it really that simple, or is technology and media and data mining ahead of our ability to really understand future and present needs and can we be responsible to dig deep and understand this in a transparent debate?
Facebook users can't delete information
and have concerns over the network’s efforts to profit from the private
information they volunteer to the site. You, the digital you, and your
networks, and your data can't be contained or erased.
We're moving to a state where privacy and legal protections of the individual need to be subjugated to the needs of national security since we are in a Long War that might last forever against terror, with our population growing and borders porous and conflicts continuing and resource pressures growing.
If you want more on data issues, go read James Bamford's books to unravel the labyrinth of these developments via the government.
What led me to write this post now, though, was the latest script or cookie I came across that newfangedly weirded* me out.
I use Firefox with the NoScript add-on, which allows me to block cookies by site -- cookies that track my online use or whatever. This week a new script popped up as I checked my MotherPie site. If it is popping up for me, it is for you, too. But I bet most of my readers don't have NoScript so they wouldn't be aware this cookie has been placed surreptitiously. This site's company, Six Apart, has added a cookie to all it's Typepad blogs (including mine, without my permission) from a company called Quantcast to track visitors and stats to measure traffic and such. When I tried to research information about this, the best info came from the privacy link to Quantcast's privacy policies in the information on this subject that Typepad provides to its customers. It was really creepy and makes me want to stop blogging. Now at first, it doesn't sound spooky. Typepad writes this about the company whom they call "a trusted partner", which seems fairly innocuous:
Quantcast is a trusted partner of Six Apart. They are building an "Open Internet Ratings Service" to provide a resource for website publishers like TypePad bloggers to understand more about their visitors, and for advertisers to understand advertising opportunities with those publishers.
Does Quantcast collect any personal information about my readers?
No. Quantcast's service is based on purely anonymous data, and the Quantcast service does not collect any personal information about you or your readers.
I've asked my blogging service to clarify the additional privacy information from Quantcast, that I followed through the link to Quantcast's privacy policies. Look at what Quantcast lists as an "exclusion" from its privacy policies and YOU, TOO, WILL BE NEWFANGEDLY WEIRDED OUT*:
note: bolding is my own editorial addition
Now Typepad also says your email is not posted for public and I use
that information to privately email people so this sounds like it is
limited, but think if you write anything personal then that is noted.
And everything I post is and can be used and tracked as well as
links to sites I visit and where my audience comes from prior to
reading here, and where they go afterwards. Who is using this
information, and for what reasons? Quantcast says this about the company: "QuantCast is a team of web analytics experts who want to make accurate and insightful internet audience information as widely available as possible."
Well, enough about this long post on eyes and privacy. Last time, though, I wrote about Google's new efforts with blog commenters, which led me to first write about privacy, my readers rallied and Google changed its format soon after. Technology is evolving so fast and it provides convenience and access but we are giving up something, too, in the process: privacy. I find this all interesting, creepy, futuristic, of concern and confounding. My Eyes -- my own collection of eyes on Flickr has more on eyes - but nothing on privacy. I focus on What My Eye Sees -- another of my themed sets with my photos. But I don't have an eye to the future, really. So who knows what all this means. Probably an end of anonymity and a complete nakedness which might mean, for our future, a loss of the private self. Spooky.
Who knows. Maybe grandchildren will be tagged at birth with RIFD. We do it to dogs. Why not.
*definition of newfangledly weirded out: go figure and try to define these things yourself. New words to describe odd new shift-changing things.
Update: Thanks to Typepad for responding so quickly in the comment section to the issue of their data measurement tools. Also, in the news today, Publishing company Reed Elsevier, owner of the LexisNexis Group, is seeking to acquire commercial data broker ChoicePoint in a $4.1 billion cash deal that would create a global information-gathering powerhouse that would collect and analyze billions of records about who people are, where they live and with whom, and what they own.