Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Reasonable Expectation

I think it's reasonable to expect that people didn't listen in on conversations I'm having in public. If I'm speaking loud enough for people walking by to hear a few words, that's one thing. But to lurk at my shoulder as a passive participant of the conversation is another. That's when I take the opportunity to adjust my conversation, and address that eavesdropping individual as an intruder.

There are those who hold private conversations, publicly on the cell-phones. They may be close enough to hear my private conversation, and I might inadvertently hear bit's and pieces of one side of that conversation. It's only reasonable that we tune each other out and go on with our own business. But there's another party, lurking passively in my conversation that I'm not comfortable with; the person on the other end of the cell-phone conversation...

How do I address that other person as an intruder? I can of course go silent, when someone with a cell-phone gets close. But to do anything more would get close to intruding on another person's reasonable expectations. Clearly, we need a new standard, or etiquette in this new digital age.

If We, as a People don't establish some code of behavior concerning privacy and free speech the Government is going to do it for us. And we better do it quick, because there are some really confusing laws on the books ( varying from State to State ), and it would seem that many of those laws were crafted in an age where these problems weren't anticipated. Many have noticed that there are some double standards as well.

How did it come about, that the police can eavesdrop, wire-tap and otherwise over-ride an individuals reasonable expectation of privacy while prosecuting those who use common cell-phones to record common activities involving the police? It seems that the Rights addressed in the Constitution have been perverted, with the effect of limiting the individuals freedoms and at the same time nullifying the restrictions put on Government.

I can only guess that Law Enforcement has for a long time enjoyed a comfortable measure of control of conversations they have while performing their routine duties, such as a traffic stop. If you add a cell-phone to the situation, they may feel much like I do when a person is standing close ( as I mentioned above ). I can understand that, and I suspect the police officers themselves aren't as hostile to the presence of recording equipment ( cell-phones ) as their superiors seem to be. I think the officers just want their tickets to stick in court.

This issue is going to be argued in the Court of Public Opinion for quite a while before it gets to the Supreme Court. In the meanwhile, I'm taking a hard look at my own cell-phone habits looking at what's reasonable ( or not ) in the way I behave privately, in public...


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