ON The Web
Business on Display for All the World To See
We’ve all seen or heard the stories;
they amuse, scare, shock and intrigue us; and they are becoming more common
From horrifying incidents of brutal
student bullying captured secretively through the eye of a camera
phone, to personal thoughts and photos posted on social Web sites and blogs
— more and more, people’s everyday actions are being caught on the Web.
Rarely do the subjects of such
surreptitious surveillance know that their private moments can, in moments,
spread throughout cyberspace like wildfire — satisfying the voyeuristic
appetites of a culture consistently seeking the shock factor. These
incriminating or embarrassing videos and photos are instantly out there for
all of the world to see.
So, do you ever stop to think about the
fact that it could be you caught on the Web? When you step out into the
public, how much privacy do you really have? Are you unwittingingly posting
photos and information on the Internet that could come back to haunt you?
Know Your Rights
In a society filled with every kind of
technological innovation imaginable, you can be filmed by hidden cameras or
mobile camera phones at any time, anywhere. This increased use of the
Internet by video voyeurs to display images captured surreptitiously robs
victims of their privacy and dignity, and makes it more important than ever
to take precautions and have increased awareness.
That’s why it’s important to know
your rights. In 2004, Congress passed the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act
prohibiting photographing or videotaping an unclothed person without his or
her consent in any place where there can be a reasonable expectation of
privacy, such as a gym locker room, public restroom, tanning bed, or
dressing room. Punishment includes fines of up to $100,000 or up to a year
in prison, or both. For more information on your privacy rights, visit www.privacyrights.org.
This site contains information that everyone should know.
Smile For The Phone
For those who enjoy capturing images
spontaneously, the mobile camera phone seems heaven-sent. You don’t ever
have to worry about carrying your camera again, because all you have to do
is flip your phone open and get the shot in a flash.
On the flip side, camera cell phones can
also mean a blatant invasion of privacy when they are used inappropriately
or even illegally. The proliferation of miniature cellular phones that can
record pictures silently has facilitated illicit photography in public
places such as grocery stores, sidewalks and restaurants.
Candid shots can be e-mailed to friends
or sent to sites that have automated “moblogging” (mobile blogging) such
as Buzznet.com, Fotolog.net, WebShots, and Textamerica.com, and then viewed
worldwide in seconds. That means private moments can instantly become fodder
for public consumption.
Images and even statements can also be
taken out of context, and not used or interpreted in the manner or by the
type of audience intended. Within minutes, a scandalous photo can be linked
to a plethora of Web pages, weaving a very tangled web.
A personal profile, provocative photos
on a dating Web site, candid shots of underage drinkers at a party, fuzzy
images of celebrities doing scandalous things — all of these can cause
problems, oftentimes doing damage before a person even knows what happened.
A few bad decisions out on the town with friends can turn into a public
spectacle by morning.
When Blogging, Beware
Blogging is a popular contemporary
Internet phenomenon. It’s the chronological publication of personal
thoughts and Web links on a frequent basis. A blog is often a mixture of
what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the Web, a
kind of hybrid Web diary.
There are blogs written by people as
they fight cancer, blogs posted by educators around the world on every topic
imaginable, and blogs focusing on celebrity gossip. There truly are as many
types of blogs as there are people. TypePad, Blogger.Com, SquareSpace, and
Blogstream are just a few of the many sites dedicated to blogging. Type in
the word “blog” on Google, and it will pull up more than 74,600,000
Just as with most everything else, there
is good blogging and bad blogging — and it is never a good idea to reveal
too much information to such a vast audience. Whether on blogs, Web sites,
Friendster or MSN, some people reveal their names, e-mail addresses, mobile
numbers, age, hobbies, name of school or workplace, weekly schedule, habits,
photographs, or residence. This is personal and private data that can very
easily get into the wrong hands.
The Internet can give many people a
false sense of security and privacy, but users should never assume that just
family and friends will view a certain personal blog, Web page, or posted
image. Information or photos placed on the Web are rarely private.
Blogging can also hurt employees and
companies. Cases have started appearing in the news where bloggers get in
trouble for posting blogs they write on their own time about their jobs and
co-workers. On the Web, this is where the line between personal and
professional gets blurred. Blogging about work, or the people you work with,
can get you in as much trouble as blogging from work.
The Internet is a great resource and
serves many positive functions, but it’s still important to guard your
privacy and make wise decisions when it comes to your Web activities.