So you’ve got a mobile phone, as do most of us these days. But what are you really carrying? Turns out, you’re giving your carrier and your government a minute-by-minute of how you spend your life: Where you go, who you talk to, what your social networks are, and so much more.
Here’s a TedTalk featuring a German , Malte Spitz, who went to court and won his own cell phone records:
The program notes:
What kind of data is your cell phone company collecting? Malte Spitz wasn’t too worried when he asked his operator in Germany to share information stored about him. Multiple unanswered requests and a lawsuit later, Spitz received 35,830 lines of code — a detailed, nearly minute-by-minute account of half a year of his life.
Malte Spitz asked his cell phone carrier what it knew about him–and mapped what he found out.
Our own questions about cell phones go much deeper.
Growing up back in 1950s Kansas. Folks not only didn’t have cell phones; they typically had only one telephone per household, usually in the living room or kitchen.
Folks also didn’t have that curious anxiety about missing calls now bred into our social beings. If we were outside and heard the ringing of the phone and missd a call, dad would say, “If it’s important, they’ll call back.” And they did. Ditto for calls missed whilst perched on the porcelain throne.
Somehow we’ve been transformed into perfect Pavlovian beings, captured by the sounds of bells [or show tunes, or whatever other ring tones we’ve got programmed into our mobiles].
We remember our laughter a few years back when we read a story reporting that selling ring tones had become a billion-dollar-plus business, a perfect example of how every aspect of our lives have become commodified.
But its more than that. We are willing paying billions to provide governments and corporadoes with the tools to track our every movement and relationship.
Not only that, but we update our tech every couple of years, eagerly buying up each new iteration of technology.
Back in 1950s Kansas, you could only get one kind of phone, a sturdy beast of black Bakelite that lasted years. You didn’t own it; Ma Bell did. And it never failed, calls were clear, and service was dependable.
And for folks who really had to be available round-the-clock, mostly doctors, there were pagers, who nobody else even bothered to buy.
More than that, we had privacy. But not now, and we pay for the “privilege’ of losing it, and the the ensuing commodification of every aspect of our most intimate personal secrets so they can be used against us.