In this week’s Tech Monday review, we’re taking a bit of a diversion and focusing on something that technology makes possible and has become a huge privacy concern: Selfies. We’re all too aware of selfies, what they are, how they’re taken, etc. For those of you who don’t know, a selfie is literally taking a picture of yourself specifically or with something behind you of interest. Here is an interesting selfie that is from the linked article that sparked this post in the first place.
This guy, after getting out of jail, allegedly robbed a bank again. The same act that got him in jail in the first place. He decided to take a picture of himself with an impressive wad of money in his mouth. Yes, I hear you, totally disgusting thinking of where that money has been <laugh>. Anyway, I looked into this a little deeper and apparently until the authorities saw this selfie, they didn’t have any solid leads as to who robbed the bank. Much to this guys luck, the selfie of himself and then on the same day with his girlfriend while holding two wads of money, they had their man.
Does this man’s Fifth Amendment rights allow him to not be prosecuted for the bank robbery?
That is the question here. While I adhere to the Constitution and the rights that it bestows on us, I clearly recognize that pervasive technology did not exist at the time of it being written. I’m not a supporter of “pure” Constitutional meaning when it comes to dictating the rights of fellow American citizens. There are hundreds upon hundreds of examples where the literal meaning of the Constitution was used in defense of someone doing or getting caught doing something that crosses the legal line. In most cases though, its hard to refute the verbiage used and they often go free.
I believe the Constitution needs to be amended sooner rather than later to take into account the technology that is in use today. It’s impossible to know what the future will hold given that the tech industry changes so quickly, but we can at least cover the basics with some new amendments or laws to protect ourselves and others. A selfie, being posted to social media without restrictions, should in fact be public record and not protected under the fifth amendment in that you knowingly posted the picture therefore bypassing your Constitutional right to self-incrimination.
While this post is largely based on selfie posting, this vein of thought can apply to anything you share online. It is debatable that the action of sharing online constitutes your knowledge of the Fifth Amendment and, by sharing, you are accepting the fact that it is no longer a defense for any unlawful action. I may be oversimplifying this, but why can’t it be that straight forward? Why does it have to always be “grey”? The law hasn’t and perhaps never will catch up to technology, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take personal action.
I’m a member of the Stop. Think. Connect campaign and have done several presentations at our local schools on this. The campaign creates awareness of the online world in general and simple things people can do to protect themselves. There are millions of bad people out there that want your information and taking small and easy steps to protect yourself is essential. Having had two credit card numbers stolen in the past year (related to the Target, Inc. breach) I’m much more aware of what I share and how I share. I’m in a much better position now because of that.
If you wanted to learn more, here are the links to the campaign websites.