Governments spy, corporations spy, even schools spy

Summary:Surveillance has never been more rife. With corporations spying on their own staff, and schools spying on their own students, where is the line drawn?

To think for one minute that the data you surreptitiously put out there, whether it's a phone call, an email, where you have last logged in to or what you just bought from Starbucks on your credit card, there will be a record of these things, somewhere.

to spy - noun [spa?] 1. a person who secretly watches and examines the actions of other individuals or organisations and gathers information on them (usually to gain an advantage).

There's nothing new here, even in light of the Lower Merion School District webcam spying fiasco. The only issue here is that images could have been taken of minors, which even when done legitimately for whatever reason, can face shaky legal standing.

My colleague Chris Dawson discussed and explained the school spying issue, and was covered elsewhere on ZDNet. The FBI has engaged in this legal dispute, while personal suits have been filed against the school and district.

So where should the surveillance line be drawn?

Last year, I wrote about Research in Motion, the manufacturers of the BlackBerry devices, monitoring their own workforce in Orwellian style; emails, phone calls and text messages being documented. Also on similar lines, police and universities have used Facebook to spy on student antics such as drinking and partying.

Traditional "spying" is old school in terms of the technology we have nowadays, along with the open nature that we still take with social networks and our own personal information.

One could argue until the cows come home how important privacy is to the end user, but information nowadays is more powerful than money.

I don't condone the behaviour of those involved in the school webcam scandal, nor do I necessarily agree with the surveillance tactics of those with the authority. But in this day and age, it depresses me to know that the level of surveillance we are under and continue to endure is inevitable.

I wish I could write something cheery and happy, but doom and gloom is what I do best.

Topics: Government : US, Government

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.