Even though I have become a “public person”, by regularly putting my personal blogs on the internet under my own name and expressing my opinion in and out of season on Twitter, I appreciate the fact that “everybody does not know anything” about me.
That, for instance, was a good reason for me to abolish “the exterminator of privacy” Facebook and it motivates me on a daily basis to not utter more private information about myself and my beloved family than I WANT to let loose on social media.
On the internet “I am my opinions and my opinions alone” and nothing more. That is what I want to share and that is for which I am accountable. I don’t cause anybody any harm and I lead an honest, unglamourous life, filled with work, blogging, family time and leisure time.
Yet, I don’t want to share real private stuff about what I and my family do when we are together and where I eat, sleep and spend my leisure time, unless it is my desire to say something about that. Does that make me a suspicious person with a suspicious private life? I don’t think so! However, some persons and institutions happen to differ in their opinions about this.
A few years ago, I already read about American companies abandoning resumees from job applicants, when these people did neither have a Facebook nor a LinkedIn account. And that for the reason that such persons “probably had something to hide and therefore caused a longterm risk for the company”. I looked at this phenomenon as “a typical American abberation”and not really something to worry about in the (formerly) open and laid-back country The Netherlands. I was dead wrong...
Today, in a groundbreaking article in the NRC newspaper in The Netherlands, George Orwell’s Big Brother suddenly became a face. And his name is... Detective Toin.
Detective Toin – who seemingly hasn’t got a surname – is a so-called cyberdetective, who spends his days with hacking and cracking computers and smartphones, that have been obtained from crime and terrorism suspects. Here is his story in the NRC:
Toin (52) is involved in ‘reading out’ computers and smartphones, that have been obtained during investigations, with the help of Israeli equipment. “The whole life of people is in such smartphones nowadays. It’s a goldmine in information”. The data can now be collected easily, “but these days the problem is the interpretation of all these pictures, text message and mails”.
The average vilain is not very digitally nurtured. This makes the policework easier. “It are the manufacturers of smartphones, which make it harder and harder to retrieve the information from telephones. One can’t access certain iPhones without the codes. The privacy is protected tightly”.
Detective Toin warns for exaggerated expectations from his activities. “One cannot use the evolving technique as a solution for every problem”, he states. “Overacted, I say on some occasions: in one hundred years, we don’t investigate criminal offences anymore, but we investigate why someone withdrew himself from the surveillance by the internet... as your telephone, your car and even your coffee machine know exactly what you did in the hours and days before. In the future, the police will first and foremost find out why someone does not let himself monitor”.
And with this bombshell, this NRC article was a wrap...
In the future – irrespective of the circumstance whether Detective Toin was charging his message or not – this Dutch POLICEMAN thinks that everyone, who does not let the internet monitor him, might be treated as a possible suspect of criminal offences. OH...MY...GOD!
I could tell you the usual blahblah that every person is innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, but you will probably reply: “yeah, yeah”. And I can tell you that some people just don’t want to have their whole life displayed online, but many people will answer:’But hey... I have nothing to hide. So what’s the problem?!’.
No, I just want you to think about the implications of Detective Toin’s statement.
I want you to think about how many people show suspicious behaviour in Detective Toin’s (mentally) distorted world view, caused by his detective work. People, who are just as innocent as you and me, but want to life their lives in the shadow of the internet and Facebook. And who prefer an offline car and a dumb coffee machine and fridge, without online connection. Because those people are his future suspects.
And I want you to think about being stalked in the future by all your electronic equipment, like you are already stalked nowadays by (increasingly) your car, your computer, your smartphone, your Nest thermostat, your online refrigerator, your smart electrical power meter or your intelligent television! Does this bring you into your comfort zone? Or does this drag you far out of it?!
And please think about who monitors these legally appointed observers of our lives?! Is Detective Toin an honest man?! Or is he perhaps involved in organized crime, like the former police infiltrator Mark M. in The Netherlands was. Or will he sell his information to the highest bidder, because of gambling debts or marital problems?! [I emphasize that this example is for rhetorical purposes alone and absolutely not a personal attack upon Detective Toin, who I believe to be an honest man – EL].
Big Brother has emerged upon us in the form of an unsuspicious, public person with extremely dangerous views upon the innocence of common, but very private people. Do you entrust the future peers of Detective Toin with your most private information?! I don’t!