Thursday, June 14, 2007

I think pretty soon we'll hear about a naked exhibitionist standing on the steps of town hall and screaming at people not to look because she wants her privacy.

Seriously, it's gotten that silly.

On the one hand we have people lining up to appear on camera as they eat, sleep, and fight with each other, and are generally obnoxious and unlovable. They take their disputes to court TV, and if they happen to make an appearance on COPS, hey, what price fame, right?

On the flip side there's the latest hurrah over Google's Streetview.

The folks at Google simply drove a van around a few selected cities. The van carried a special camera that took panoramic pictures every few feet along the road. These pictures are now available on Google Maps, where you can see what the city looks like at street level.

The camera was never aimed. The van wasn't driven to selected spots. But, out of thousands of pictures, there are a few interesting ones - for certain values of interesting.

The resultant uproar in some parts of opinion land has been deafening. "Invasion of privacy." "Creepy!" "Spooky!"

You'll forgive me when I say that we're all losing our minds.

I want that van cruising my home town. I want everyone's browsers to be able to access all street light cameras and security cameras around the city, any time they feel like looking. No, I don't mind if the cameras watch me, too.

I'll be sure to smile and wave.

We aren't talking about an Orwellian police state. Google doesn't carry their cameras into peoples' homes. Google doesn't punish you when you attempt to evade their surveillance. Google doesn't use their pictures to force us to obey the people in power.

If anything, Google must make the people in power distinctly uncomfortable. I wouldn't be at all surprised if DHS dispatched some of their Gestapo to Google headquarters to demand that Streetview be dismantled. They'll demand it in the name of security, of course.

We should all remember that information is an enemy of tyranny. Instead of trying to suppress information, we should applaud the people who provide it.