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I’ve spoken before about my loathing of that 500-year-old technology, the lowly key: How I am so tired of depending on this ancient, easily-defeatable technology to secure my property; about how tired I am of carrying a pocketful of them with me everywhere I go, inevitably putting holes in my back pocket, in order to enter my car, to unlock my home, to give me entrance to my office, to lock up my bike, etc, etc.
The device pictured here proves that now, in the 21st century, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.
For years, scientists, media, politicians and public citizens—hell, pretty much everybody—has been
cautioning screaming about the pervasive and invasive tendencies of the digital revolution, its inexorable collection of data related to every aspect of our lives, the erosion of personal privacy and the eventual collapse of civilization that will result. Yet, when laws and regulations are proposed to rein in this collection of data and loss of privacy, they are always delayed, watered down or struck down… and often by the very people who decry the loss of privacy in the first place.
Why is it that people who are so concerned about their personal privacy can’t seem to prevent others from getting their data? Because that’s not what we really want.
Personal security has taken a number of recent hits, most notably with the reports of recent hacking into the databases of Target, Home Depot and other national retailers. Financial institutions are finally concluding that the U.S. needs to start using chip-embedded credit cards to better protect their funds and identities.
On the heels of that, the iPhone 6 has been released with an encryption system that (supposedly) no government or agency can break, keeping anything stored therein private from prying eyes. On one hand, law enforcement agencies are complaining that this will only make their jobs more difficult. On the other, agencies are realizing this makes their operatives’ data better protected. And, of course, private individuals like the idea of being able to secure all of their data, allowing them to, as law enforcement puts it, “place themselves beyond the law.”
But as secrets become easier to keep, we run the risk of ne’er-do-wells attacking us more often, targeting our institutions, our money, and even our lives, using the same security measures we rely on. Does my need for privacy include allowing a terrorist an easier time destroying my plane? Is the collection of internet porn on my cellphone so important that we should also allow foreign agents to store their collection of bomb making manuals and list of suppliers on their cellphones? Do we have to allow people to keep whatever secrets they have, only to examine them within an inch of their lives every time they approach a public place?
An article I read recently described the outright animosity experienced by a reporter on a long-term evaluation of Google Glass. I learned a new word from the article, one directed (openly) at the author: Glasshole. The article was shared with me on Facebook by a friend, who made reference of another word I’d just learned: Bluedouche (someone who wears a bluetooth earpiece in the presence of other people, whether they are actually on a phone conversation or not). I’ll bet you that at the turn of the 20th century, people weren’t being called names by showing up at parties with timepieces strapped to their wrists.
It served to remind me—as if I needed reminding—that a lot of people are still distrustful, distracted and outright frightened of technology. Still. In 2014.
Drone technology has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade, a unique convergence of kids’ toys and military-grade surveillance equipment that is inexorably reaching into other aspects of our lives, filling in the gaps between those extremes. And as it develops, we are already seeing signs that this could signify another quantum shift in the impact of technology in our everyday lives.
The news of the past week has been filled with the revelation by an ex-CIA employee of the project called PRISM, in which the government has unfettered access to Americans’ phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, etc, in order to catch threats to national security.
As I suggested in a previous post, Americans have short memories. Even this close to the Boston Marathon bombing, after which we were treated to the sight of the Tsarnevs killed or captured by police and federal authorities, to the standing ovations of Boston citizens… those same citizens now cry “Big Brother!” and cite privacy issues in our government’s monitoring our communications.
Last week’s nightmare in Boston makes for an interesting argument about the state of security in the United States at the moment, and the value in improving that security for all American citizens. Though it’s hard to say the bombing at the Boston Marathon wouldn’t have happened if security had been tighter, it is easy to say it would have been significantly more difficult to have happened… that the perpetrators would have been likely captured or killed sooner… and that the American public is behind law enforcement when it comes to protecting our skins.
Some of the concern reflects the present use of drones in battle areas. Equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment and lethal munitions, military drones are sent on reconnaissance and surgical kill missions against military targets, leaders and terrorists. Which all sounds fine in a battle situation (even if they still result in some collateral damage); but what about in the USA? Some citizens are concerned that Americans in the US would be singled out as targets for military-grade drones to attack, and they question whether an American citizen determined to be a threat against other Americans should be surgically killed on American soil.
Okay… that’s not entirely true. The real concern American citizens have is that our government, not being infallible, will be told by some anonymous or insane source that one of us law-abiding citizens is a terrorist; and that the government, not questioning or investigating said information, will fire off a drone to take us out on our way to Burger King.
Because somebody needs to.
The U.S. has had a gun problem for quite some time. It’s like a nationwide addiction that no one is willing to address, much less treat. Why? Because over two centuries ago, our forefathers told us we have a right to own and use guns. (Mind you, this was written when the country was on a wartime footing on its own shores… details, details.) And today, although we haven’t fought a war on our lands for over a century, we have dangerous people among us, and we want to protect ourselves.
So we buy guns. Many of us don’t learn to use them properly… many of us don’t store them properly… many of us keep ammo in them, leave safeties off and put them where kids can get at them… but there you go. We feel safer.