Commentary

Taking Off Your Clothes In Front of A Camera: Really?

According to a just-breaking story, GCHQ, a British government surveillance agency (with aid from-who-else but the NSA) has intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Yahoo users, including "substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications."

The surveillance program, code-named Optic Nerve, collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether users were intelligence targets or not.

This only goes to affirm that, like their TSA counterparts, spies are just a bunch of horny guys who can't resist any opportunity to peek underneath our clothes. I think those were the same boys who stood under the stairs in grammar school in order to check out the underwear of girls on the move. 

This is all the more remarkable since we live in an age where it is nothing to models and entertainers (arguably among the best-looking women on the planet) to appear in the nude. And if pretty isn't your thing, there are billions of photos and video of porn stars just a click or two away. Why on earth would you want to collect pix of average-looking people parading their naughty bits in front of video cameras? You have to figure that for every naked 10, you have to see 80 or 100 3s or 4s.  It's kind of like going to a nude beach and finding out everyone there is over 50.

But just as quizzically, what has happened to a society that now thinks it's cool to send Snapchat and other cell-phone naked selfies to others, and/or videotape yourself having sex and posting to any of hundreds of "amateur" sites? (Visited purely for research and bookmarked only in case I need to remind myself why I am so upset, of course.) Perhaps we have been so shameless throughout history, but it’s only become apparent with micro-electronic recording devices.

Back in the day, if you sent racy film to be developed, you often got it back unprocessed, with a stern note from the owner that lab "employees would be offended" by having to print such pictures (or so I am told). Maybe you grew up luckier than I did, but none of my girlfriends sent me naked picture through the mail. It was somehow thought to be inappropriate, and the girls were pretty sure you would show them to your pals in short order. And God forbid if their parents found one of the originals in the sock drawer.

I know times change, and that between explicit fashions and plenteous naked bodies in movies and on cable TV, all this should be no big deal (although Yahoo seems pretty pissed about operation Optic Nerve). And no one is forcing you to look at electronically delivered "porn."

But you have to consider a few irrefutable facts: 1) Everything you ever do with a mobile phone or a computer is stored somewhere by somebody. Even if you don't agree to it. So you might as well put down that "privacy" sword, because it kinda cuts both ways since you decided to record and transmit your nakedness. 2) Once you take it and send it, you no longer control it, so you can't be pissed when you show up on some "Horny Women Who Want to F**k You Now" website. 3) What would your father say?

Tags: privacy
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