Jul 20, 2008

privacy? who wants it?

Enterprising prosecutors are now trolling MySpace and Facebook for embarrassing photos that might, say, prove that you weren't exactly remorseful for that drunken crash. In a related story, enterprising investigators, similarly fishing for leads, were blocked, at least until they found a warrant, by a librarian with more knowledge of the Patriot Act than the overzealous flatfeet.
"The lead detective said to me that they need to take the public computers, and I said 'OK, show me your warrant and that will be that,' " said Flint, 56. "He did say he didn't need any paper. I said, 'You do.' He said 'I'm just trying to save a 12-year-old girl,' and I told him 'Show me the paper.' "
Privacy is a gold standard of the library experience: you're supposed to be able to check out books or surf the web without the government reading over your shoulder.

Judith Flint's fellow librarians strongly supported her, and rightly so. After all, privacy is a right. As long as MySpaceCadets and FaceBookies post every last loving photo of their inebriated weekends, though--and, more frightening, as they start taking over positions of power--privacy is threatened, and will only become more threatened. Techno-wizardry is just too alluring.

To complete the triptych, consider what the Lacey Timberland Library now offers: the ability to check out the books you've reserved from other branches. They're shelved in a special section, and you take them home without any assistance from an employee, through the magic of self-checkout. It seems flawless, until you realize that now anyone who recognizes your first name and the first three letters of your surname can see that you're a secret Flashdance fan. It's easy: when I picked up my hold, I figured out that the books next to mine were my dad's. Wasn't malicious; his books were right next to mine, and I couldn't help noticing the covers.

I'm not saying everything you do or say or read is nobody's business. I'm a blogger, after all. But when you want something to be, will it?

Privacy. Convenience. I know where I'm placing my bet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another interesting conflict beetween deontology and concequentialism.