Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

On Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – the ‘asocial media’ emerge

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

It’s good to see the Irish authorities have reached the stage of public consultation on fine-tuning changes to existing laws so they cover bad behaviour on digital platforms.

But why not a whole new law, even a suite of laws? As netizens [ugh], or rather people who overwhelmingly both work and play via the internet, we should have controls that refer specifically to this environment. It’s no longer possible to pretend that the wonderful freedom and openness of the web can be a highway without road-signs and restrictions.

More and more, the unlovely side of the internet comes into view. And that’s without discussing the Dark Web, hard-core porn and its trade, ditto for drugs and weapons.

Up in the sunny, noisy, hillsides of ‘social media’ it’s becoming ever more clear, to anyone with sensitivity and clear sight, that the term ‘social’ denoting a big open party is a misnomer. Even the implication that social implies a concern and regard for one another is often inaccurate.

More often it should be ‘asocial media’. ‘Asocial’ means ‘without society’. And individuals such as those who threatened athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill with sexual violence after she stated she would not support the re-employment of a convicted rapist at Sheffield football club should not be welcome in any society. They have no regard from others, except for those who confront them in the flesh. Read more…

Privacy is just a construct – really?

May 9th, 2014 Comments off

OMG, leave privacy alone! Without it we are nothing. Angela’s view…

I’m a private kind of gal, somewhat shell-shocked by the public nature of the digital world, so the issue of privacy is a big one for me on two levels.

Firstly, there’s the platform privacy question: how much does Facebook/Google/the NSA know about you and your personal preferences, and what are they doing with that knowledge?

Second, the moral, philosophical value of privacy, the integrity of the individual in what used to be called their souls – what happens to that in an all-on, all-out-there, 24-hour society?

[And the usual qualifier that in talking about the digital society, we are talking about one-third of mankind, not the 4 billion or so who don’t have the internet.]

Privacy is no longer a social norm, Mark Zuckerberg told a techie conference several years ago, and he’s been followed by many parrots since.

Read more…

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Assange and Wikileaks – reflection

November 28th, 2013 Comments off

This is a paper I wrote last year, and have belatedly decided it’s not half bad – though of course will be updating for lectures this winter...

THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS has a number of angles. One is the theme of free speech/power to the people; one is of the ‘little guy’ who takes on the global establishment and leaves it red-faced and determined to get revenge; one is the privacy or privileged nature of certain communications – or whether that never exists at all.

For people in the news media, one interpretation is that their role is undermined, even made redundant, by the Wikileaks phenomenon. At its core, Julian Assange’s project does away with mediation – the material goes straight from initiator to the public, so there is  no ‘mediation’ (filtering, editing, selecting) and so no role for media.

Wikileaks has blown open journalistic procedure. Yet it has also highlighted the need for professional journalistic practice, in selecting, editing, and presenting important information so it is of use to the public (which, it could be argued, the undifferentiated dumping of thousands and thousands of government messages can never achieve). In its first global coup, the release of the State Department cables in late 2010, Wikileaks could not have achieved the amount of coverage and controversy if it had not partnered with leading newspapers across the globe, whose senior journalists combed through the cables and selected the material which was most important and made the best stories.

Read more…

Naked Prince lacks common sense as well as clothes

August 24th, 2012 No comments

When did taking your clothes off in private become a capital offence? Angela thinks Harry is in the clear as well as in the buff

Prince Harry might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, nor the most mature 28-year-old in Britain.

But then, look at his father – and I’m not talking Prince Charles here.

However, surely he is entitled to have fun with friends in private, as long as nobody gets hurt. And if his friends enjoy games of strip pool, whose business is it?

But the whole world, thanks to our ‘responsible’ media outlets as well as those characters categorized by Australian PM Julia Gillard as ‘the nutjobs on the internet’, has been privy to snaps of the prince enjoying himself in Las Vegas, and wearing….a watch.

A lot of  pompous stuff has been voiced about the prince’s responsibilities as a senior member of the royal family – ooh, only the other week he was the ranking royal at the Olympic Games closing ceremony. Granted, you might not like to think of the Queen au naturelle, or Prince Charles. But would that mean their credibility as a dignitary, a focus for national pride? Would that be forever dented if some media platforms had published photos of them in the nip?

For some, every time they see Harry on TV or wherever for the rest of his life, those blurry but genuine late-night shots will come to mind. And he doesn’t look too bad, quite fit, as proper for a young serviceman whose upbringing has featured every advantage – except a mother after the age of  13.

Harry’s only real failing in this silly affair is how he picks his friends.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the saying goes, but one of Harry’s group wasn’t listening to that voice in her head. She was listening to the much more hearty and confident one telling her she could make big money selling pictures of a naked prince, especially with an attractive lady somewhere in the frame.

The prince’s security staff have come in for some stick on why they didn’t leap in –perhaps rugby tackle the woman? Confiscate her phone, more likely.

And Harry will have to learn more sense than to invite randomers back to his hotel room for jolly japes. Get the boy married, to someone like Katie Price perhaps, and all this would stop…

But the brouhaha all returns to the ethical question, for the media, of whether public figures are entitled to a private life. If you can’t have a private life – or, like Boris Johnson, seem able to ride heedlessly, so to speak, through all embarrassing revelations – then you might go a little bit mad.

Max Mosley must have read the Harry coverage – and looked at the pictures – with interest. The Formula One millionaire continues to campaign against media intrusion after his success in suing the News of the World (remember that?) over whipping up a ‘Nazi sex orgy’ story about him.

But with the red-headed prince it’s fabulous gossip, delicious gossip, and plays to the fake prudery with which the tabloids, in particular, like to address their made-up world.


Links: OK, to be fair, here’s a link to James Hewitt denying he could be Harry’s father.

And here’s one to somebody seeing Lance Armstrong’s disgrace and Harry’s embarrassment as two ends of the same spectrum. Not sure that I get the point – or, in fact, Harry is particularly embarrassed!


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Privacy still matters in open digital world

November 14th, 2011 No comments

THE woman was distraught, there was no doubt about it. Her voice was shaky, and never far from tears. ‘We just can’t understand why we are still alive and others aren’t,” she managed to say at one point, referring to her partner. They had been involved in the disastrous motorway pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in Somerset, England. Seven people were dead, and another 50 hurt, some of them with what one reporter referred to, chillingly, as ‘life-changing injuries’. This woman, speaking on Irish radio, was, if not in shock, obviously traumatised.

She and her husband had indeed been extraordinarily lucky to escape, apparently with no physical harm. But one of the mental issues that was torturing her now, she explained, was how quotes and photographs of the couple, who had escaped ‘miraculously’, were appearing in newspapers and websites, without their permission.

“We spoke to The Times of London,” she said, “but other newspapers have run stories about us, have stolen our pictures from Facebook….I will never believe what I read in the papers again.”

This was Ciara Neno’s verdict, after being interviewed on RTE radio. Her distress was evident, and deserves kindness and respect. But her alarm at photographs being ‘stolen’ from Facebook highlights, yet again, how privacy has become a thing of the past. And many people don’t seem to have noticed, nor to care. It is only in extreme situations such as this that people feel violated when their information, and images, is taken and used without their permission. Everywhere, the media is doing the equivalent of the old unethical reporter’s trick of climbing in the bathroom window to steal a photograph of someone involved in a tragic or dramatic story.

People are, in effect, putting their personal information and images up in a vast public square. The so-called privacy settings on Facebook, Google+, and others are often only a minor obstacle to mildly skilful computer-users.   Read more…

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