technology and privacy

some would call me hypocritical. i don’t think so… i would just say i’m choosy.

I particularly enjoy shopping at stores like Radio Shack and Family Christian Bookstore. Not because of what they sell (although I do enjoy killing time in both of those places), but because of what happens when i go to checkout. They ask for my name, phone number, address, etc, and I simply refuse to give it to them. I often get strange looks and occasionally I upset the person checking me out… all for asserting my right to privacy. I don’t know what they’re going to do with the information they collect, but it doesn’t matter. I should have the freedom to go into a store and anonymously purchase something without the store’s corporate office tracking my habits and using the data to build their demographic reports… or whatever it is that they do with that data.

This afternoon I was surfing around at, a dedicated hosting company I saw advertised on TechTV. Well while I’m surfing along, a little chat window pops up from a ServerBeach employee asking if I needed any help. I figured it was just a litlle automated thing, so I shot back a nonsense reply only to find an actual person on the other end. It was quite strange to be honest. Apparently their site has an embedded java applet that allows them to pop little chat windows up on my screen. I’m not sure if I should just be amazed and intrigued that the technology exists, or a little more concerned for the issues of privacy invasion that such a thing alludes to the possibility of.

On the flip side, I am quite open to some personal things about my life. For example, this online journal that I keep. Sure some of the things are really nonsense and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but some of what I put in here is downright personal. So why do I put it online for the world to see? I’m not sure to be honest… i guess i really just don’t have much of anything to hide. So why don’t you give Radio Shack your name? Because I’m all about choice. I choose to make some things public and not others. My refusal to give my information to those companies is my small way of protesting companies forcing their noses into places it doesn’t belong, even if it is something as simple as my shopping list. If they want to kindly ask me for my buying habits, I might be wililng to share if I’m in the mood, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be forced to divulge any kind of personal information just so I can buy a two dollar audio adapter. But even my willful release of privacy catches me off guard sometimes. This afternoon I had a lady from a Christian booking agency call and tell me to clean my room. Okay, so that’s a little out of context, but not too far. She and I had corresponded via email for some time, and she was on my site looking for my phone number and happened across my webcam. I thought it was quite funny. :-)

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