Oct 082009

Google’s Street View has just been introduced in Canada.

Many people consider it a “gross invasion of privacy” that someone can take pictures of their streets and post it on the Internet. “What if they see my car in my driveway?” they scream at the top of their lungs, as if Google broke some long established taboo by photographing a public street.

But wait a minute… are these the same people who readily submit to having their laptops searched, its content, personal and business, examined and scrutinized, just so that customs can catch the occasional pedophile?

For what it’s worth, I couldn’t care less if Google posts photographs of my street or my house. On the other hand, I am so concerned about real invasions of my privacy, I am willing to face the wrath of customs agents by using Bruce Schneier’s method of laptop protection against unwarranted searches.

Curiously, most of the people commenting on Schneier’s article completely misunderstand his point: it’s not that I have anything illicit or shameful on my laptop that I need to hide. That would be easy. It’s that I object to the principle of strangers going through my entire life.

The really scary thing is that so many people, citizens of supposedly free countries, already adopted such a strong police state mentality: rather than looking for a lawful way to maintain their privacy, they are discussing various ways to break the law without getting caught. What I like about Schneier’s method is that it does not involve breaking the law: all my statements to customs agents would be truthful. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished… I’ll likely be harassed more than the smartalec who just creates a hidden partition on his laptop and keeps the visible partition sterile. But, at least I’ll suffer with a clean conscience, whatever good that does.

 Posted by at 12:57 pm