Today I begin a series of posts where song titles will serve as the inspiration. Today's song is "I'm Looking Through You" from The Beatles 1965 Rubber Soul album.
In the wake of yesterday's revelation in the Guardian that a blanket order was issued in April to obtain the phone records of all customers of Verizon's Business Network Services division, I definitely won't be using my Verizon cell phone to conduct interviews with potential government whistleblowers anytime soon.
Seriously though, I think it is time to come to grips as a society with the fact that we are constantly being surveilled, sometimes through actions of our own volition.
It is not my intention for this post to serve as an area for the discussion of whether these government actions are either politically, morally or legally justified. I will leave those decisions with the reader. We live in complicated times.
Rather, I think this is a good time to bring up this topic in light of several recent revelations in technology.
There has been much talk recently over potential privacy concerns about Google's hands-free Glass project.
For those unfamiliar, the Glass project is Google's attempt to create a heads up display atop faux eyewear. The project is still in beta form and will almost certainly be adapted to work with regular prescription lenses when the product goes commercial sometime next year.
Among the features of the product are the ability to take pictures and video. This has caused privacy concerns and Congress is debating legislative action on the issue.
However, at this point Glass requires you to give an audible cue to take a picture or start a video.
Google isn't even the first company to do this. There is a product on the market called Pivothead that does the same thing without an audible cue.
It also wouldn't take much for someone to surreptitiously record anyone with a cell phone camera.
It doesn't stop with cameras. On the Internet, advertisers are following us around.
I've noticed over the past few days that products I've searched on Amazon are finding their way into advertisements on other sites. I recently bought a product based on a Facebook advertisement. Facebook knowing what I like may be convenient, but I also couldn't help but feel it was a tad creepy.
The Internet enables us to consume and produce more information and media than ever. I can't help but feel that maybe some of the actions that have made the news lately on the part of the government are indicative of a society trying to reconcile old laws with the rapidly changing world. With great power comes great responsibility.
In the meantime, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera."