Monday 28 October 2013

Private Passions

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 impossible.

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 go to?

And is there someone down in the basement recording how many times I pull the flush?

1 comment:

  1. "And is there someone down in the basement recording how many times I pull the flush?"

    That will be your new smart water meter which will soon be sending you various bits of unwanted and rather personal advice.