The U.S. Senate votes this week on a bill that may result in the most significant changes to the nation’s surveillance law since the Carter administration. The fly in the ointment for lawmakers such as Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden is the proposed immunity for telecommunications companies who participated in the government’s warrentless wiretapping program. Wyden said today he would oppose any legislation that included “blanket retroactive immunity” to companies that were part of the program.
As lawmakers debate this bill, we’re wondering how surveillance laws and the changing perceptions of privacy in our culture are changing the behavior of ordinary citizens. One artist has responded by essentially surveilling himself, tracking his every move and meal on his web site. More and more teenagers are publicizing every mundane detail of their lives using technology such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Meanwhile, their parents are able to keep track of kids’ cell phone use with tools like My Mobile Watchdog, which bills itself as a way to keep children safe from potential predators.
Has being watched or listened to — or thinking that someone out there might be doing so — changed you? Do you share sensitive information via email or phone? Do you pay cash for certain transactions?
And do you think the answers to these questions are generational? Are your attitudes about privacy different from those of your parents… or your children?
- Ron Wyden: U.S. Senator representing Oregon
- Tom Nelson: Attorney for Al-Haramain Oregon
- Patricia Sanchez Abril: Assistant professor of business law at the University of Miami School of Business Administration
- Jonathan Raban: Author of the novel Surveillance and many other books