Whenever I boot up the
machine and start using it my belief is that I have entered a public arena and
that anything or everything I do or say is out there for someone to see or to
record. This applies as well to mails or
even visual or other contact facilities.
If someone wants to know
and knows how to they will be able to check in and find out. So hey NSA, how's the weather in Washington
and there is heavy traffic on the Baltimore freeway. A while back the family had fun with Google
putting words into the text to see what advertisements they would trigger.
But we got bored with
that, it became too easy to predict. If there is some poor soul who has to
check out all the documents I fling about the world my heart bleeds for
them. Wading through all that family
history and turgid tracts about historical and ancient times, never mind
volcanoes, earthquakes, magnetic fields, outer and inner
space must be a bad way to earn a living.
Absorbing and significant it
may be to some, but hardly the stuff of international relations or the key issues
that confront governments. But it is out
there on the net for all to see
As a child there was
precious little privacy. Given that all
our purchasing was done from a limited number of retailers in shops close by,
that we had to walk or go on the local bus or tram everywhere and that there
were people delivering milk, papers and doing other routine work it was
Going back in history with
living being more crowded even in the wealthiest families it was difficult to
hide much. Being private was very
relative and often only achieved by living in urban areas and moving on quickly
from one place to another. It seems that
the further back you go the less likely privacy is to be found.
Which is why strangers
were so often suspect and the cause of special interest. Looking back indeed where those in authority
wanted to know and sought information they did so and there was plenty of activity in that direction. Spying and interference is nothing new it has
been done for all history.
When might it be justified? There was an interesting example in a recent
TV item about WW2. Apparently, captured German
senior officers were put in a large country house with ample space etc. and a
fair degree of comfort. But the whole
house was bugged with a basement full of operatives listening to every
word. This was said to be vital to our
success in the war.
It is arguable that for
WW1 one reason for the chaotic descent into War was that the powers did not
know enough, especially about the network of secret agreements that dragged
states into the war. During the Cold War
the powers knew a lot more about each other, so did effective spying help to
keep the peace?
Looking around the world
at present it may be that a reason for all the current troubles is the extent
of ignorance we have about those who involved in the nastier aspects of what is
going on. A lot of things have been
happening not predicted and there is the feeling of governments chasing their
tails in playing catch up on events.
As for history, the
revelation that the Foreign Office has kept 1.2 million old files out of the public
record offices is of interest. There
could be much to learn from them. To use
the tag we so often hear in documentaries about history much of it might have
to be rewritten if they are made available and even more if they go online.
In the meantime why does
my 'phone beep so much these days? Why
does Sky TV keep reminding me to connect to the broadband as well as insisting
in a fixed link to the telephone? Why do
the net providers want particular bits of information? Just where do my bank and credit card details
And is there someone down
in the basement recording how many times I pull the flush?