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Friday, June 01, 2007

Favorite Song of the Day: Fly on the Wall

There are a couple stories in today's news about potential invasions of privacy by two of the more popular tech services.

In the first instance, people are getting a little freaked out by the new Google maps service called "Street View", which allows users to zoom in for close ups that pull up images a little too close to home. In the New York Times story Google Zooms In Too Close for Some , a woman describes her suprise at zooming in to see an online photo of her kitty sitting in the front window of her apartment building.

Next there is a story reported by The Times Online that details privacy concerns raised by the disclosure that iTunes is embedding personal data in the music files it's selling, including the new DRM free tunes (see Information hidden in iTunes music files sparks privacy fears).

The digital age is supposed to be about openness and transparency in business and government, but I don't think anyone expected that to apply to their personal lives as well. The June issue of Wired details one man's unique way of proactively dealing with the problem. The New York artist and academic was mistakenly put on the government's terrorist list, and to make sure the Feds don't continue to confuse him with the bad guys he's posting every moment of his life online for easy look-up and monitoring.

Here's an excerpt and the link to the full text:

The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online
by Clive Thompson

[Hasan] Elahi's site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you're on, it's hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he's doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.

Read the full article
As it is my wont to do, all the spying talk made me think of an old XTC song. The caution of the digital age applies to both watchers and watched: Don't do anything you don't want others to see; and don't look at others doing something you might not want to see.

Fly on the Wall

I am the fly upon the wall,
My prying eyes are looking through your bottom drawer.
I just came flying through your door,
You didn't notice that your number had been called.

I see the mother beating the babe,
I see the money, the pennies you save,
Stored on computers, from birth to the grave.
I'm telling you ... fly on the wall,
Seeing, seeing, seeing it all.

I am the fly upon the wall,
You're in the index of the file that stands so tall.
Although your health is rather poor,
We have a place for those who cannot find a cure.

I know your income, your daily crust,
I know your pleasures, your passion, your lust,
I know when you're living, I know when you're dust.
I'm telling you ... fly on the wall,
Seeing, seeing, seeing it all.

One is born and one will die, it's all understood
The bit that's in the middle doesn't count

I am the fly upon the wall,
My prying eyes are looking through your bottom drawer.
I just came flying through your door,
You didn't notice that your number had been called.

I see the mother beating the babe,
I see the money, the pennies you save,
Stored on computers, from birth to the grave.
I'm telling you ... fly on the wall,
Seeing, seeing, seeing it all.
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