• author
    • Kelvin Wade

    • December 18, 2014 in Columnists

    Privacy is so last century

    I always say that privacy is a twentieth century concept. In my first book, Morsels: Twisted Tales of Life and Death Vol. l, (Buy the book here. Buy the ebook at BN.com and iTunes) I included a story called “Precious White Lies” about a scientist eagerly showing a colleague his newest invention, a 100 percent accurate lie detection device. With such a device, lying would become a thing of the past and we’d be forced to live our lives with no privacy. But even without such a device in the real world, have we already lost privacy?

    Hackers calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” working for North Korea recently hacked Sony Pictures’ internal network and threatened theaters showing the Sony movie, “The Interview,” about an assassination plot on the Korean leader. After chains like Cinemark, Cineplex and Regal dropped the movie, Sony was forced to pull the film from release. Another movie called “Pyongyang,” starring Steve Carell, was scrapped.

    It’s outrageous that companies folded to cyber terrorism. After a victory like this, there’s no doubt there will be more. And that’s the part that’s really chilling. The North Korean hackers didn’t just threaten theaters. They hacked Sony and released embarrassing emails from studio executives. They also released the phone numbers of Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and others, as well as the pseudonyms celebrities travel under, jeopardizing their safety from stalkers. They reportedly released the script of the new James Bond movie. And by the way, they also released the social security numbers of 47,000 employees and freelancers connected to Sony.

    You may recall earlier this year, hackers hacked the iCloud accounts of many young celebrities and dumped private explicit nude photos of them online.

    When Edward Snowden released classified information about how the U.S. government spies on citizens, he also indicted employees like himself, showing us how easily just one man could manipulate information. Think of the damage Snowden could’ve done if his goal was to enrich himself and weaken the country.

    The genie is out of the bottle. Cyber terrorism will wreak more havoc than a car bomb could ever do.

    The North Korean hackers didn’t just ruin a movie release. Think of what they’ve done to those that have had their social security numbers released. What happens when hackers aid stalkers by leaking the itinerary of government officials, celebrities and others? What happens when they leak the schools their children attend and what times they’re there? What about a world where people are routinely outed as gay? Outed as having HIV?

    Think about your entire cyber life. Business transactions, medical records, private emails, private photos and discreet conversations falling into the hands of some hacker who makes it all public. Just think what would happen to a society that suddenly lost its secrets. There would be divorces, paternity tests, families and friendships falling apart, job losses, lawsuits and more.

    What kind of world will we live in if there’s no such thing as a private conversation? We already have had cases where private conversations have been surreptitiously recorded with real world consequences. Private conversations get people fired now. And the thing about it is, when someone’s privacy is violated, we tend to focus on the content and not the violation.

    When Sony was hacked, the Internet talked about the alleged racist content of the emails of executives rather than the fact that they were hacked. Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s privacy was violated and no one cared. When Hollywood starlets’ nude photos were hacked, the conversation was on the propriety of taking such photos rather than the fact that a crime had been committed. We gleefully consume private conversations like we’re scanning the National Enquirer in the checkout line, giving no thought to how they were acquired and what the implications are.

    What happens when it’s private citizens getting their accounts and phones hacked? What happens when it’s you?

    Surely there are far scarier implications of cyber terrorism. Hackers hacking into our drones like Iran did in 2011. What about hackers crashing Wall Street, knocking out the power grid, looting bank accounts, and hacking into our military defenses? What if hackers had found out about the Bin Laden raid plan and tipped off the Pakistanis? All of this scary stuff used to be in the realm of Tom Clancy novels but is a very real possibility now. But for now I’m just focusing on how a complete loss of privacy will affect our world.

    It was this world I was envisioning when I wrote “Pretty White Lies.” What if the world lost its privacy? What if we could know everything? Would we even want to know? How would relationships change and society change if everything was laid bare? SPOILER ALERT: In my short story, after the creator of the 100 percent accurate lie detector finishes explaining the machine to his colleague, his colleague, horrified at the implications, beats him to death and destroys the machine.

    We don’t even have that option.

    • Face to face only private communication and that can even be exposed. I read that Sony former employees could have done the hacking as they fired a lot and morale is very low. Also, Sony didn’t cancel showings the movie theaters (CYA) did. They were afraid of the threats. Terrible decisions.

        • Kelvin

        • December 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm
        • Reply

        Half of the theaters decided not to show the movie. Sony couldve still released it to the ones that had the balls to run it. I think the public support would’ve been huge. But Sony also said they have NO plans to release the film. They could’ve released it as an on demand movie or released it on Blu-ray. The fact that they completely cancelled distribution tells me they may not fear terrorism as much as they fear what the hackers could release about them. But that’s just my guess.

    • Interesting. That is why I think it was an inside job and has nothing to do with Korea.

      • JMSK

      • October 7, 2017 at 3:17 am
      • Reply

      Very insightful article. Short story seems brilliant and a must-read. Privacy is indeed a shaky subject, and this was conveyed well in your article.

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