This subject has seen much debate over the years. Opinions vary greatly on the topic. Some people feel you shouldn't be all that concerned. While others think you should keep things as anonymous as possible. In some cases it might be wise to write under an assumed name and provided little details about your true identity. But should this be a major concern for those who just write about daily life from time to time online? For me the answer is fairly clear. I share what I want to. I have made the decision in the past not to write about some local topics do to safety concerns. There are other topics I've chosen not to get heavily into for personal reasons. So I guess that somewhat makes the uncensored title here not one hundred percent true. Because at times I do censor myself. Sometimes I think this is to the detriment of the site.
The topic that comes up most often in regards to this subject. Is should you feel safe posting pictures of your children online? We all know that some nasty people exist out there. But should we have to sacrifice the joy of sharing moments to keep children and others safe? At Gnomedex 5 I think it was. We had a friend of Chris and Ponzi speaking. Her family was in attendance. This was her husband and children. Keep in mind no other attendees were allowed to have their children or spouses present. That is another rant for another day. What needs to be kept in mind are a couple of things. Gnomedex has always had a very liberal and open policy in regards to photos, audio and video. That year however attendees were asked to be sure not to include this couples children in any photos or video. Of course no one would want to go against the parents’ wishes. Then again all the other attendees that were present may have had families and they seemed to find supervision for their children. So maybe it should be asked – whose responsibility was it to keep the kids out of the limelight to begin with? Do these people take their children to work with them every day? Gnomedex has become an adult conference. In its early days I could see parts of it being kid friendly. Now I would say it is at the teenager or older level. If there was such a concern in regards to the safety of the kids. Then why even put them into the situation to begin with?
It is logical to assume that not all situations can be controlled. When you’re out in public everyone is pretty much on display. Is it wrong for a photographer to take a photo or video of something they see as funny or interesting? Where does the invasion of personal space begin in public? This question was asked by one person offline in regards to my Seattle picture of the young woman on the roof. Personally I do not see that picture as an invasion of privacy. Not to mention the fact that in many cities and public places you are in fact being monitored by many different surveillance devices. So is this personal space violation ok because you are less aware of it?
Over the years my viewpoint hasn't changed much on the subject. I have at times had a private and public debate in regards to what is ok to safely publish. In the past I have posted family photos. I have posted photos of Cheryl's family including her nieces and nephews. No one has ever expressed a concern in regards to their personal safety do to this. Some might argue that these people might not be aware of how search engines make it easier for people to find the content they want. Others might say these people might not be aware that this site was a decent amount of readers each month. 1,369,525 pageviews for the year of 2006. Granted that is small change compared to many sites on the internet. That does however leave the chance open for some of the crazies of the online world to be some of those pageviews.
I know many people could point to serious situations that have take place do to online postings or interaction within online communities. I'm not trying to discount that a threat can exist. What I'm asking is at what point do we draw the line? Do we close down completely and not share anything do to fear? Is the fear entirely rational in all cases? In regards to children is it just good parenting not expose them to the online community? Should people not share personal stories or details for fear that some sicko may come after them? Keep in mind I'm not saying that some common sense and rational thought shouldn't be given to the subject. Then again can online journalist really call themselves that in all cases if they aren't willing to put themselves out there fully? Newspaper, radio and television reports do this on a daily basis. In the past some of them have been victims of crime do to their work. There are many different angles to look at. I think for each person the share boundary is at a different point. This isn't all that much different from life offline. Most people don't share their life story with every stranger that walks by. Does the internet change this because most contact isn't face to face?
This is a topic that interests me from a security point of view as well as a personal viewpoint. In the past I've seen many opinions that I think are overkill. Personally the situation at Gnomedex that year annoyed me for several reasons. The key reason being that if you don't want your children being filmed. Then don't put them in a situation where that is most likely to occur. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished in everyday life however. At times I've wonder if people and parents like this would cause a major uproar and scene if their child was captured in a picture or video. An example might be a parent filming or photographing their children in a park. While doing this they may inadvertently capture other children on film or video. How do parents know that the content wouldn't be shared on the web? Is it really ok for these people to ask that no pictures or video recording take place while their children are present? This would be taking place in a public setting. Doesn't it violate the rights of others to ask this of them?
From a further security point of view. Can we longer post pictures of bridges, power plants, buildings or an assortment of many other things do to the fact those photos might be put to evil use? Only once have I ever been asked to not take photos. When I was leaving the old offices of Zone Labs in San Francisco I was taking pictures of art work in the lobby. This work Corey Bridges called trash art. Either way I wanted to take pictures of the work on display. Keep in mind I was not using a state of the art camera. A Kodak 3.2 MP model is what I was taking the pictures with. Yet the female security guard firmly but politely yelled at me not to take photographs. Now keep in mind I had taken photos all over the building to this point. From what I was told security measures had been put in place that stated photo taking was a security concern. We have seen many instances over the past few years of people be questioned or worse do to taking a photograph or video to close to some locations. Security guards by our local power plant have harassed photographers multiple times. Keep in mind with a good zoom lens you could get just as good of photos at other locations around the lake by this facility. I think if someone really wanted to be a threat. They most likely would be more stealth about things.
The past few months I've seen this topic come back up in several different locations. I will try to link most of those below. I've wanted to write about this for some time but have never gotten around to it until now. I should also note that in regards to a few of Cheryl's family members. They have had articles written about them in the local newspaper and been on local television news. So I haven't felt fully uncomortable talking about them or posting a photo here of them from time to time.
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