A little bit of privacy, please

Trying to regain some privacy in the hard invading light of the Internet.

Do you remember what it was like to be anonymous? Known only to your immediate family, if you wanted to be famous – or infamous, you had to earn it.

That was before Facebook and Twitter and Classmates and all the rest of the “connect with the world” wireless computer applications.

Imagine growing up before the invention of television or radio, or mass transit such as trains. Or even the use of horses as transportation. The world extended only as far as you could walk in a day, and your only care was finding your next meal.

But we can’t go backwards, unless you intend to go live in the Amazon jungle, and I suspect most of us wouldn’t last too long there. And I’m not referring to the lack of a computer signal.

As information becomes more widely available, government authorities come up with new ways to keep secrets – which often we only find out about when their attempts fail. As they do, and will, now that all data is stored on computers.

My personal mantra is: if you don’t want it repeated, don’t speak it in the first place. So it goes without saying (or it should) that if you have information you don’t want circulated around the wold 50 times before breakfast, don’t post it on the computer.

Have you ever “googled” your name? It might surprise you to find out what information about you is available to anyone who cares to look.

And if that isn’t enough, we have highway cams, traffic cams and surveillance cams to record our comings and goings, and Google Street View so that we, and others, can view our house – or any house we have an address for, our yard, our car. Perhaps it even caught us coming out of the house on the day the picture was taken.

Anonymity is a thing of the past, but privacy shouldn’t be. We all have a right to privacy, unless we go commiting acts that will put our names in bright flashing lights all over the planet.

Because once lost, privacy is hard to regain. Perhaps it’s time to turn off all of the devices that record our personal data.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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