Lives Stolen, Privacy Lost, Fighting Back
February 12, 2014
He saw the future.
And it is now.
So much so that it is worrisome.
A half century ago, I was on a discussion panel with a couple of other newsmen before a large audience at a big church.
The general topic was the state of the media.
I do not recall much of what specifically was said but I do remember this:
A network television correspondent – the main speaker for the evening – warned about the growing loss of privacy in our lives.
The years have gone by.
And with each one the truth of that correspondent’s prediction has come through, come true.
Slowly at first.
Then the pace quickened.
Evidence of a wiretap here.
A wiretap there.
Fast forward to today.
Incalculable numbers of closed circuit television cameras recording our every step on streets, in private buildings, elsewhere.
Governments getting information about our telephone calls. And more.
All sorts of information about individuals falling into the wrong hands.
Through store reward cards, those in commerce know what we buy at the grocery store and how often we buy it.
Others know the brand of gasoline we use, our vehicle license plate number, our spouse’s name, our age, our prescription drugs.
They know when our washing machine was last repaired, when the family cat was last vaccinated.
Collectively, this vast amount of information is stored in what surely amounts to some giant, inter-connected and intra-connected computer system..
There to record our tale.
Even to tell our tale.
Even without our permission.
And to whom?
So the TV network correspondent’s prediction has come to pass.
With more, obviously, to come.
Frequently, word comes of some new way to invade our privacy.
Cameras worn on clothing.
Cameras disguised, in some cases, as jewelry.
And in other forms.
Yes, there have been spy cameras for decades.
But now they are becoming more ubiquitous and high-tech and surreptitious.
Cameras that give no hint, no evidence they are cameras.
Or that they are being used.
And used on us.
So what if I do not want my picture made?
Any way to fight back?
Well, in some places they are trying to come up with rules, laws to control it.
But not with much success.
Have an idea.
Think I will slip out into my garage, garages being where so many of today’s ingenious, high-tech devices are invented, where they get their start, (think Steve Jobs, think Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard ) and see what I can come up with.
What I have in mind is some hidden camera, radar-like detection device, some counter-camera doohickey that will send the unmistakable message to the sneaky camera wearer that I do not want my picture taken, that I do not want my privacy further invaded.
That I have had enough.
Take your Kodak moment elsewhere.
I will program my anti-hidden camera device to automatically and instantaneously respond to any attempt to make my photo without my permission by zapping this fire engine red, subliminal message — accompanied by a low-voltage, cattle-prod-like electrical jolt — to the wearer of said sneaky camera:
Warning: The next image your furtive camera sees will be my brass-knuckle-clad fist zipping angrily at the speed of sound into your snoopy, privacy-invading, bullseye of a nose.
Get out of my line of sight.
Aw, I know, I know.
I just talk big.
Anyone who knows me could never picture me doing that, knows I really wouldn’t do that.
Now would I.
Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.