Recently, there has been a lot of discussion of the many violations of our right to privacy and anonymity. This basic Human Right is being trampled on as modern technology is being used to find and track carriers of the coronavirus. Our cellphones are giving up our location together with a host of other details as to how we are spending our time, how we live our lives. We are faced with the dilemma, does saving lives overrule our right to privacy. Fortunately, we do not need to make this difficult decision, the government has decided for us.
But this is not new. Readers with very long memories may recall the credit card advert – Joe, invited to a formal wedding celebration, buys a suit. When he swipes his credit card he is asked, “Is that really you, Joe? We know you’re a jeans and sweater man.”
At the time, this was not an issue. The credit card companies were happy to let us know that they were collecting and storing our personal information and we were not yet sensitive to Human Rights.
And today, putting in my on-line order to my local supermarket, I tried to pay, only to be asked “Did you forget the bananas, Roger – you always buy bananas.”
This lack of privacy is especially worrying during the current pandemic. More and more of our lives are spent on-line. More and more of our personal, private, information is in reach of databases that can accumulate and correlate vast masses of information to provide interested parties with details of our likes and dislikes, political views, friends and enemies, sexual tastes and indiscretions. They will know if you prefer a suit and tie or a pair of old jeans.
Our social life, our contacts with family and friends, is now all on-line. Our conversations can be overheard, recorded, transcribed to text, and scanned for key words that could alert the authorities to any inappropriate thinking. It may not be long before an indiscreet comment about our prime minister (if we have one) could be followed by a knock at your front door.
And, there is no end in sight. A quick Google search brings up more results (1,370,000,000) for Corona-virus Era than Corona-virus Crisis (999,000,000). A crisis usually implies a short but difficult time whereas an era is many years.
And if you are wondering, the supermarket was right, I had forgotten the bananas.