The explosion at the Boston Marathon was tragic and deplorable. On a positive note, the FBI identified (and apprehended) suspicious persons at the event based on info gleaned from spectator photographs and from news organizations, as well as local merchants' surveillance cameras.
Most private companies (59%) and public organizations (64%) now use video-surveillance. (Source: Forrester Research)
Couple that trend with the fact that a large percentage of Americans carry a smartphone with digital camera, and you can count on being surveilled, photographed, and recorded at all times.
Our "always on" digital lifestyle has made each of us contributors to a potentially unintended "Big Brother" society. This lack of privacy can have its benefits for law enforcement as seen in Boston.
The new age lack of privacy, whether intentional or due to overzealous posting of pics and information online, can have a negative impact on the guilty and the innocent. A few examples of the consequences follow.
Stupid Thief > Last month in New York, a man stole a woman's iPhone and then took a picture of himself on the phone. The iPhone was set to forward pics directly to the owner's Facebook page. Thus, the thief posted his own pre-mug shot on Facebook to assist in his capture. (Source: New York Daily news)
Stupid Crowd > After the Stanley Cup riots in 2011 in Vancouver, BC, authorities used digital images and video collected from the public and closed-circuit cameras to arrest more than 200 people. (Source: WSJ)
Baby Identity Thief > If you excitedly post every photo and phase of your pregnancy on Facebook, and include the baby's name and birthdate, you can potentially expose your child to identity theft. The challenge is that you probably won't find out about it until the child gets her first job and you determine she has an active social security number with years of payroll history.
Tweet Much? > The daughter of Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, tweeted pictures last year revealing her famous parent's whereabouts. Dad's security detail quickly took down her Twitter account.
And during the Olympics last summer, Aly Raisman, Olympic Gold Medal gymnast, tweeted that the U.S. Olympic woman's 'Fierce Five' were planning a night on the town. That info upset her coaches and parents and could have potentially caused a security risk for her.
College Bound/Not > Kaplan posted a survey indicating that universities are looking at prospective applicants' online presence, including Facebook and Twitter. Not surprisingly, college applicants who post inappropriate things are more likely to be rejected. In fact, you can count on it.
Sexting > Approximately 110 million U.S. mobile subscribers carry smart phones. (Source: comScore report) Of that, 75% use text messaging. The trend toward sending sexually explicit text messages is on the rise. Shockingly, 30 percent of parents with children under 18 are sexting.
Because of this, some states have taken action. Recently, it became a felony in West Virginia for a minor to send a sext. This trend will likely continue in other states. Adults and kids will go to jail. You have been forewarned.
Summing it Up
What you post/text/Tweet matters. You should assume what you do in public is going to be recorded. Educate your kids on these consequences...some of which may be life-changing, in addition to embarrassing or even illegal.