Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Are Not Alone

Perhaps, I am still under the influence of 1984 by George Orwell (since I recently read it), but I have been contemplating the issue of privacy.

Does it still exist?

Most schools have security cameras in the hallways, and it is rare to find a public school bus without a camera mounted near the driver. Webcams keep track of track flow and the weather conditions, even in the most isolated intersections and highways. Cameras can be spotted on the roof of shopping malls and department stores. Of course, cameras are also inside most stores and even at stop lights. Nearly every person with a cell phone is a potential photographer in public and in private. Big Brother is watching, and anyone who thinks otherwise, is living in a fantasy.

Today, I read a blog post about the blogger's trip to Japan. Since I lived in Japan for two years, I was thrilled to see the photos of the countryside and of a tea ceremony and wrote a comment about my delight. The blogger responded that she generally does not post photos of other people because she did not have their permission and was concerned about their privacy. I admire her integrity. I was intrigued because I saw them as vacation photos. Then, I began to wonder if I had become so used to being observed in public that I had lost all expectations of privacy, except perhaps in my own home.

What are the boundaries of privacy in a world that is obsessed with cell phones, security cameras, and other gadgets? Is privacy something we no longer expect or respect?


  1. I think it was fine for the blogger to post photos of other people from her vacation without asking first. I believe asking permission is a very nice thing to do, but those in the photo have already consented to have their photo taken. After that it's the photographer's to use in a reasonable manner. I happen to read that post you refer to and the names of the people were never mentioned. So in a way, they remain anonymous.

  2. Nancy, I was thinking of doing a similar post on my site. A few nights ago on the news it was mentioned that there is bill being proposed before Congress about cell phone making a noise when a picture is taken. This was with the intent of sneaking a picture of a child ya da, ya da.... Do digital cameras make a noise.... I suppose it is a good idea but let's not go overboard or waste some more money. If someone is caught taking an inappropriate picture -- that person needs to be punished. BTW-my cell phone does make a noise when I take a picture.
    Anyway, you make a good point about privacy and I have mixed emotions about it all. And before I write an epistle here, I'm going to think some more.

    Don't forget to smile -- it's contagious

  3. I also read that book in high school. Big Brother is watching us it seems like. Every where you go there is some kind of security camera. Sometimes I wonder why? But they are supposed to be a good thing.

    Now a days I am very careful where I go and what I do - you don't know who's watching or why.


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