Editorial

Big Brother privacy capability sword cuts both ways

Monday, March 26, 2018

If you’re worried that somebody’s watching your every move, there’s more news to stoke your paranoia.

If you think somebody should be paying better attention, there’s assurance that that’s happening as well.

And, if you think massive social networks give away their services for free, we’re sorry to disabuse you of that notion once and for all.

For those of us worried about Big Brother, there’s the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook user data supposedly being collected for legitimate academic research, wound up being used by the Trump campaign.

Use of social media information by political campaigns is certainly nothing new and is certainly growing.

Candidate Hillary Clinton didn’t make a move without consulting a complicated computer algorithm, named Ada, that provided guidance on when and where the candidate and celebrity supporters should appear, down to county-level campaigns.

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix said his company was involved in 44 U.S. political races in 2014, including Ted Cruz’s, and played a part in the campaign for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Facebook’s stock dropped with news of the scandal, and anti-regulation technology chieftains like Tim Cook of Apple even called for tighter controls.

“I’m personally not a big fan of regulation because sometimes regulation can have unexpected consequences,” he said at a tech summit in Beijing on Saturday.

“However, I think this certain situation is so dire and has become so large, that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”

Even independence-minded Texans, however, were glad Big Brother helped find and stop the man responsible for a series of fatal bombings around Austin.

Authorities were originally baffled about the attacks, theorizing drug-dealer retaliation, family connections and other factors were involved.

When the suspect, Mark Anthony Conditt, started using FedEx, however, technology involving video surveillance, and cell phone triangulation led police to his red SUV in a hotel parking lot in a suburb, causing him to blow himself up as they closed in.

We need to give serious thought to our privacy before clicking on Facebook links and give serious consideration to restricting what information we share, or leaving social networking altogether.

On the other hand, many believe if we have nothing to hide, there’s no harm in sharing trivial information with friends and family.

Those are the two extremes with which we’re faced, and only time will tell whether a happy middle ground can be found.

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