@ Your Library: Technology is threatening privacy

Web Lead

The library receives an actual, tree-killing paper copy of the British Guardian newspaper on a weekly basis and I wait for that one like some people wait for the new People magazine. The latest edition does not even mention the U.S. until page six and then, under the heading “U.S. Military” there are three stories, one with the title “Guantanamo: America’s Lingering Failure”.

In the following pages, there are only several short articles from America, and only one mention about the state of American politics and it is under “Comment and Debate”. My favourite line from that article is, “It’s all looking a bit of a nightmare now isn’t it? I’m hearing that again, as non-Americans watch not just the bizarre Republican presidential field but the paralysis of a U.S. political system that has rendered an elected president apparently almost incapable of doing almost anything.” A great relief after our own media seem to take the candidates vying for the GOP candidacy with actual seriousness. The paper does not mention Canada even once. Tells you something, doesn’t it?

I digress; that article was not the one that gave me the original train of thought but it was a story on page 18 with the title “Hi-tech Threat to Privacy”. I have mentioned this before, and even since that time, a few months ago, the invasion of privacy by tech companies continues on a steadfast trajectory to obtain every detail about every user through what they look at online, what they create and pass on, what they say to others through all forms of social networking and everything they watch on YouTtube. Google has changed their privacy policy to “make it simpler for users”; however, it seems all they have done is make it quite plain they have the right to use your information any way they want which I might add is something they already do.

They also let you know there are ways of avoiding at least some of the intrusion on your web activity; however, it is very cumbersome and more than the average user or I would think of doing. Everything you do online is collected, stored and eventually used. Every user needs to keep that in mind, as ignorance can’t be used as an excuse when it comes to what you do online.

Another aspect of technology not examined in any detail, but that should be, is the incredible increase in waste and environmental degradation in the production of all these devices, all these latest versions of phones and tablet computers and how many perfectly good televisions are being tossed out of homes for newer, flatter and bigger versions. Perhaps with as much importance is the fact almost everything you use to connect to the net or a cable is manufactured somewhere other than North America. Not sure how Americans can blame a president for the loss of jobs, especially middle class jobs and jobs for women when it is the corporations who willingly go offshore looking for cheap labour, reduced safety standards and fewer, if any, government oversight to take care of workers and environment.

We seem to be evolving and devolving at the same time, and speaking of evolution, the library is celebrating not only Darwin’s birthday on Feb. 12, but also the global celebration of science and reason (despite the fact reason does not seem to be driving politics or our respect for our own world these days). At 1 p.m. on Feb. 11, we are showing the film, What Darwin Didn’t Know, a PBS production exploring what modern science has done to enhance Darwin’s theory.

Ann Day is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public Library.