Lawrence Lau has posted a thoughtful entry
in the Freedom forum discussing the privacy rights of celebrities and other "public" personalities. In it he makes this comment...
> The fundamental issue is that public interest is defined differently for different groups
But is it? And if it is, are the issues celebrities face any more than just issues of scale?
I'm sure my wife wouldn't mind me telling this story. A couple of weeks back we were at the beach with our two children - one of whom was being particulary uncooperative. I won't go into details, but being seven months pregnant, my wife has less than her usual patience so heated exchanges were had and colourful words were used.
I turned around to find we were being filmed. Not with a handycam, but with equipment substantial enough that we could well end up in some television interest story or fluff piece.
I'm sorry, I don't care whether the law permits it - such use would be wrong. It would be just as wrong if I was a celebrity and our antics were reported in and plastered all over the gossip magazines.
Modern media has desensitized us to such a degree that unwitten rules about what's "decent" are being lost. And because they're "unwritten" today's digital media moguls treat every "public" snippet of information or behaviour as if it's fair game for any use.
What's this got to do with digital knowledge rights you ask? This. Much more is now "public space" then people now realise. Every time we send an email, view a web page or comment on Facebook, we do so in public. It's fair game for any use - and the law gives us very limited protection. Google is currently being pilloried, for example, for drive-by collection of router IDs, MAC addresses and some unencrypted wireless traffic. But in the final analysis this stuff was "publicly" broadcast in the same way as a radio chat show.
We need devices - laws, simple statements and voluntary codes - that reflect community values and our intent when it comes to "public" information and media about us. Because the parts of our lives that really are private are shrinking fast.