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From Biography To Archives Essay

965 words - 4 pages

Due to the escalating sophistication of technology during the information age, privacy has become a romantic myth, an urban legend newscasters and armchair politicians keep in circulation. Electronic surveillance has effectively banished privacy from the public sector. E.g., there are hidden cameras behind the mirror in the dressing rooms at department stores. Consumer demographics has led to obnoxious telemarketers calling you during dinnertime hawking a product or a service you may or may not need. The emergence of the internet as the communication medium has in turn created a long digital 'paper trail,' which is much easier to share than paper documents. "Using the internet is a bit like wandering around town dragging a road-marking machine with a film crew right behind it."The specific information gathering methods I am concerned here with aren't the intentional information gathering of eavesdropping, spying or wiretapping, but the passive archives of personal information, and that concerns data privacy. Data privacy is basically more sensitive personal information - name, address, phone number, bank accounts, medical history, and etcetera - the things your mother warned you not to give to strangers. A credit card transaction is recorded by the store; a grocery store number links yourself to your purchases. The information of owning a home, a business, being a registered voter is public knowledge. Even your internet service provider logs your online activity. They have a record of all the pages you visit, how long you stay on, what types of downloads you save on your computer. The good thing about this gargantuan amount of data is that most ISPs cannot investigate much and usually delete them after it is created, because it would not make any financial sense. But they are readily available if a law agency needs access.The improved capability to monitor people's activities during their work hours or at public areas or the ability to mine data from different sources has eliminated all pretence of privacy. Privacy used to be a cherished value, until security became an issue, until sensationalism became a priority, and corporations thought legal liability was more important than their employees' civil rights. After September 11th, 2002, several companies bent over backwards far enough to accommodate the knee-jerk reactionaries at enforcement agencies by handing over their entire customer databases, with nary a warrant in sight. Even the United States government is getting in on the act by tracking Visas, which is, of course, carried out under the pretence of "national security." Over in the Old World, the European Union awarded law enforcements sweeping power to monitor electronic communication (telephone, email, and other internet data) during summer of 2002.Thanks to the rise of modern technology, the proliferation of information has transformed humanity in more ways beyond the palpable application. The only way anyone could reconstruct a...

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