I’m not sure what this says about my general psychological state, but whenever I hear about new technology, I immediately think of all the ways it could be used for untoward activity.
For instance, there is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to have a street view of the address you search. Now, I can see why this might be helpful. Suppose I wanted to get to the U.S. Post Office in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I can see why someone not great with directions might want the visual aid.
But, what if this was your house? There is a feature on Google Maps that allows you to “walk” along the street. Any creep who knows the general area in which you live can easily find what your house looks like. If your car was in the driveway at the time the image was gathered, anyone can see what you drive, as well. While only street views are provided (and not your backyard), it still seems like a burglar could still reasonably case your house for possible points of entry.
Is this really a good idea?
It doesn’t end at Google Maps, either. Most communication-based technology frightens me. Look at cell phones, for instance, are they really anything more than devices with which the government can spy on you and track your location?
Seriously, though, there are a lot of really disturbing web applications and pages that blur the line between public information and the implied right to privacy the Supreme Court has ruled can be found in the U.S. Constitution. Having your phone number in the white pages of a phone book in 1985 wasn’t a big deal. The people in your home town could call you. If you didn’t want this, you could have your number unlisted.
Now, anyone in the world can find information on you by typing your name into a search engine. Threats of identity theft abound, but this information could be used for even more unsavory purposes.
There are many upsides to being able to connect to people all over the world through the World Wide Web, but at what cost?