Here comes my last article in the series “privacy”. … You can easily find all my “privacy” articles (1 to 5 and two more) by typing “privacy” in the search window of the IF blog. Thank you for reading me!
One of the really great terrors of this time, both social and political, is the loss of privacy. We all leave footprints as we go through life. Due to modern information technology, our footprints can easily be made publicly available – both with and without our consent. It happens on a scale which a few decades ago would have been unimaginable.
What used to be a diary is now a blog. If you stroll through the streets, you will be filmed. Credit and coupon card systems have made our consumption habits as transparent as it might have been in former times if you bought from nowhere other than “Quelle”. Cellular mobile telephony makes protocols of all our movements. And thanks to street cameras, DB and the airlines, everybody will know which means of transportation you took.
This article is only about the footprints you leave when browsing through the internet and being physically mobile.
Even I get a little thoughtful when I think about the footprints I leave as I browse through the internet. In theory, it is possible that everybody knows all the things I search. Consequently, it would be possible to analyse me, draw wrong conclusions from my behaviour in the internet and develop strange theories about me. And people would get a wrong impression.
🙂 Or, even worse, some people might even get the right impression. What if someone drew the right conclusions and they would be even more disagreeable? His image of me might then be correct (insofar as this is possible at all), but I might like it even less than the wrong one.
I am not worried about the systems storing data. But I find it a disgrace if these data are then analysed. No matter by whom!
My really great fear is that anonymous powers who want to do some damage to me might make use of my data. And I am talking the state and its executive organs exclusively. If this state turns into a rule of injustice, I will have lost. But the same is true if there are no data of mine in storage. The only potential advantage is that it might then be easier to hide. As we saw in the Third Reich, however, this is not much help, either.
So there is only one task for us – especially in the age of data collection:
Prevent the state from seeing its own conservation as the most important goal and thus developing fascistic structures.
As to everything else – what problem is there if others collect and analyse my data? Honi soit qui mal y pense – why should I get upset if others draw correct or wrong conclusions from my behaviour?
If my physical mobility is noted, I could not care less. On the contrary: I am actually delighted if all of you in twitter, for example, know where I am currently staying. Moreover, I do not think it can be avoided. Both modern methods of paying for public transport and future poll systems, for instance if they count traffic frequency in order to make adequate streets, will make it necessary, anyway. And no matter what data protection says, the data are available already. And if data are available, they will also be made use of. No law in the world will be able to prevent it.
If I really go somewhere and do not want to be seen, I have to close down my systems. Except that it does not help if I just switch off my virtual traceability. The real one remains. After all, if I am physically mobile, I usually have my body on me – and everybody can see it quite easily. And the devil is a squirrel.
Incidentally, a record of all my routes would be quite interesting, too. I would quite like to take a backward stroll through my life. Not just a mental one, but like in a film. Even if it were only some of my forays through the city of Augsburg in the 1960iesI would see. It might be really exciting.
🙂 So how about once again strolling through the old streets of long forgotten times in street view recordings? That would be some feat! Especially if you imagine it in the quality street view might offer in 50 years…
🙁 Yet, it will not be possible.
I wonder if our grandchildren will some day do this kind of thing: visit the places of their youth on the internet.
But recorded mobility too has its hazards: the rule of injustice as mentioned above. But as I said, it is something we must avoid by all means. And that is where actually the open availability of all collected data (with very few exceptions) might be helpful.
But these are my typical weekend ideas. …
So – I wish you a nice weekend
yours Roland Dürre
Here is a song about footprints …
Two footprints in the snow – leading down from high above.
(Translated by EG)