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Almost seven years ago, I wrote a blog post on The Transparent Society, David Brin’s insightful text on the delicate balance between privacy and security. The book, published in 1998, foretold the day whe be in a surveillance society. While the specifics of technology were not known at the time he wrote the book, he foretold a day when cameras were everywhere and your daily movements could be tracked. As the quick apprehension of the Boston Marathon bombers has shown, technology, specifically cameras, are now playing a key role in criminal investigations and tracking the movements of specific individuals. We are in the Transparent Society.

So now we all congratulate the law enforcement involved and agree that all this surveillance is a good thing, right?  While I certainly applaud the quick apprehension of the suspects (and mourn the loss of life), I think we also need to consider the society we are becoming. Is it really worth giving up some of our freedom, our privacy, to be more secure?

From security cameras to mobile phone cameras to surveillance drones, we are being watched everywhere we go. Add to this the facial recognition technologies, and we can now be “watched” via software. Just the way we use drones right now has raised many ethical questions.

For many, the standard response to this is, “I have nothing to hide, so it doesn’t really affect me.” This is understandable, but it is short-sighted. The ability for a government to project power so easily, both with surveillance cameras and drones as well as with armed drones, should make us all pause and reflect. Shouldn’t it?

Taking it further, as technology progresses, we will begin seeing the private use of drones. Drones will become smaller and less expensive (as all technology does) – soon we all may have our own drones for our own uses: checking on the kids while they are at camp, watching the house on vacation, remotely attending a LIttle League game, or maybe tracking the movements of people we do not like. Do you see the possible problems here?

So what can be done to address these issues? Let’s start by having some conversations about it. This needs to be front and center for policymakers. No matter what we do, technology will march on – let’s just be sure that we are prepared for it when it gets here.

What are your thoughts? Share with me in the comments.

 

 

 

We have all seen the news stories of companies and government web sites being hacked. Many of us, if not all of us, have gotten notified that our personal information “may have been compromised” at one point or another. Will your church or ministry be next? It is for this reason that I reserved the final chapter in my book for the topics of privacy and security. From the opening of the chapter:

As you develop your ministry’s digital strategy, it is important to consider how the use of digital tools can affect the privacy and security of those who use the tools, as well as the impact of these tools on your own ministry. Unlike previous generations, who stored everything in file cabinets and communicated via paper, we have to realize that every bit of information entered into a digital device can be easily logged, saved, copied and stolen. As a ministry, you must understand how your choices of digital tools can put your users and your ministry at risk and how you can mitigate those risks.

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