Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Privacy, The Right To It

During the first season of the television show The West Wing, Rob Lowe’s character, a senior White House staffer, argued to President Bartlett (Martin Sheen) that if the main, most pressing social issue a couple of decades back in the US was race relations, and if this was eventually succeeded by freedom of speech a decade ago, the main, most pressing social issue today and in the coming years is privacy.

This was a conclusion made considering the interconnectedness of the world amidst consumerism, high-stakes marketing, communications technology, the internet, and even something like outsourcing.

There has been an increase of telemarketers that have been haunting our phones at home. And whereas before they would merely just make their pitch to anyone who answered, now they look for particular persons in the house, pitching to them specifically, asking for personal information to make their sales strategy more personal.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been receiving calls on my cellphone from banks with whom I have no connections with. They have been trying to get me to apply for a credit card, but however attractive their deals are, I still can’t revert my attention from the fact that they actually know my name, my address, and my contact info—my cellphone number for crying out loud!—which are all unlisted.

There’s also the annoying internet innovation where companies email you ads for products which they feel you may be interested in based on the history of websites you’ve visited.

I choose to put personal stuff on my blog; and I suppose if I were ever to post something on YouTube, that would be a personal choice as well. So I suppose personal info released through those mediums are fair game.

But aren’t the actions of certain companies and their marketing teams a little to close to what we would describe as intrusive, if not abusive?

I have a tita whose mental state of mind is almost bordering on John Nash (made famous through Russell Crowe’s portrayal in A Beautiful Mind).

Convinced that there are people that are out to get her, watching her every move, she refuses to ride certain jeepneys because of the “suspicious” look of certain passengers. She walks out to the payphone outside their subdivision to make calls, convinced that the phone at home is tapped. She immediately hangs up, though, when she hears what she thinks is a clicking sound on the public phone.

Perhaps all that needs to be said to her is that if anyone’s listening, if anyone’s really out to get her, it would probably just be some yuppie in some marketing office in Makati. Still, it doesn’t make it right, or even less scary for that matter.


Was at the Philippine Free Press Literary Awards last night. My thanks to Sir Glenn. (So who did you go home with? Hahaha…joke lang.)

My thanks as well to Ada. (My absence over the past few months may have been unfair to say the least. I’m Sorry. Nevertheless, I hope you had a good time last night. Thanks again.)


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