Fin­ger­ing the snoops

Seaway News - - OPINION - Arthur Black Ba­sic Black

Can I tell you pho­to­jour­nal­ist?

Won’t take long be­cause it didn’t last long – about 11 sec­onds, as I re­call.

I had the equip­ment – a nice 35 mil­lime­tre Pentax. I had the lo­ca­tion – a moun­tain vil­lage in ru­ral Spain. I had a cus­tomer – the Globe and Mail was buy­ing travel pieces from me. I even had the oc­ca­sion. Gen­er­alis­simo Fran­cisco Franco had just croaked and I had a chance to record what the pass­ing of the long- time dic­ta­tor meant to at least some of his coun­try­men. I de­cided a pho­to­graph of one of the towns­peo­ple — a bare­foot peas­ant in a bat­tered straw hat who

about my



a was astride a burro sham­bling down a rocky path to­ward me – would make a com­pelling illustration for my story. I raised my cam­era; the peas­ant raised his right fore­fin­ger and wagged it dis­ap­prov­ingly.

And I caved. I baled. I chick­ened out. I low­ered my cam­era and grinned apolo­get­i­cally. Clearly I wasn’t tough enough to be a pho­to­jour­nal­ist.

Back then, at­ti­tudes to­wards pho­tos taken with­out per­mis­sion were a good deal crisper than they are to­day. In 2013 we all have our pic­tures taken by com­plete strangers dozens of times daily. Sur­veil­lance cam­eras snap our pro­files in bank line­ups, cor­ner stores, at gas pumps – even at stop­lights. It is a com­pletely un­war­ranted and un­sanc­tioned in­tru­sion of our pri­vacy but it hap­pens so of­ten we don’t even think about it.

My com­puter guru was help­ing me re­trieve some files on my lap­top and I hap­pened to men­tion that tiny Cy­clo­pean eye that sits front and cen­tre on most lap­top screens – the cam­era lens. He chuck­led and said “I can’t tell you how many clients I deal with who’ve put duct tape over that lens.”

Mean­ing what? That some peo­ple think their own com­put­ers are spy­ing on them? What would be the point? What would a spy see through that lens? In my case he’d see a bald guy with a red face say­ing bad words about the lap­top that just ate his email.

Hard to see how that would en­hance the CSIS data­base of ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity in Canada.

I’m say­ing CSIS but choose your own ini­tials? CSA, FBI, CIA, RCMP – who knows who’s snoop­ing out there?

Re­cently I at­tended an anti- oil tanker rally in a lo­cal park. I was hav­ing a hard time hear­ing the Rag­ing Grannies be­cause of a high- pitched dron­ing sound from over­head. I looked up and saw... a drone, I guess. A weird gizmo about the size of a crow with four stiff wings that swept back and forth about twenty feet above the crowd. It wasn’t cam­ou­flaged; as a mat­ter of fact it looked sort of like a model air­plane – ex­cept ev­ery few sec­onds it would stop and hover.

The bet­ter to take photographs, I have to con­clude.

So who was man­ning the con­trols on that drone – the protest or­ga­niz­ers? Some mu­nic­i­pal crowd con­trol bu­reau­crat? A con­sta­ble from the lo­cal RCMP unit?

All I know is, no­body iden­ti­fied them­selves. And no­body asked my per­mis­sion.

Well I know some­thing else. The next time I pass a sur­veil­lance cam­era – at the bank, at the gas pump, wher­ever — I plan to em­u­late that Span­ish peas­ant who held up his fore­fin­ger to me years ago.

But I’ll be us­ing a dif­fer­ent fin­ger.

Adam Brazeau

An­nual Tim Hor­tons food drive: Tim­mies and TC Me­dia teamed up with the Agape Cen­tre to fill the food bank’s shelves for Christ­mas. Pic­tured (left): Dar­ryn McPhail, Tim Hor­tons fran­chisee, Lori Greer, Agape Cen­tre op­er­a­tions man­ager, Alyssa Blais, Agape Cen­tre ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Tina McNairn, Tim Hor­tons gen­eral man­ager and Nel­son Matos, Tim Hor­tons owner.

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