Speaking transparently, feeling utterly nude under Big Brother’s increasing watchfulness, it’s clear that the legal foundation of privacy law is being rendered increasingly irrelevant.
Whether one fingerprint or ten fingerprints, whether DNA databanks or VISA purchasing trails, whether a camera near the curb or a camera through my window, whether radio authentication or long lines of interviews and strip searches, we are living in glass houses to learn that somehow in some way we have indeed transgressed the rules. Our steps along the street are different now.
“Privacy law has long relied on the twin pillars of notice and consent whereby consumers are notified of, and consent to, the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.”
Notice and consent.
These pillars fall, says Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa.
Of course Ben Franklin’s warning has been so overused it seems trite.
“Those who lightly give up their liberties in the name of safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
But Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner appointed by the British Parliament, recently cited Ben Franklin’s warning in his formal report to the British people. He’s further warned about what’s glued around the corner:
“Tiny cameras, hidden in lamp posts, will replace more obvious monitors. Microphones that can eavesdrop on conversations in the street are the next step in the march towards a “Big Brother” society.”