The telegraph and privacy

Revisiting the concept of there’s nothing new under the sun, The Guardian recently published an article describing how privacy concerns stretch back to the very beginnings of electronic communications with the telegraph:

For the vast majority of human civilisation, the scope of day-to-day conversational privacy had pretty much been whatever was beyond earshot. But the rise of the telegraph meant that the possibilities of communication exploded; by the mid-19th century you could go to a telegraph station and have a message sent further and faster than had ever been possible. The whole idea of what was “beyond earshot” changed inexorably.

Along with that expanded space of communication came a newfound vulnerability. Words could be snatched from you long after they’d left your vicinity. Electrical telegraph lines could be tapped, signals intercepted. Cable workers were required to sign confidentiality agreements, but even they could be bribed to divulge messages.

Much has been written about how different nations have different concerns over privacy, even culturally aligned nations such as Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom—the latter being the most indifferent to the Edward Snowden story of 2013 (and now in 2015 subject to the return of the Data Communications Bill), but less has been written how this affects different technologies and different times.

Anyway, enough about privacy concerns about technologies of the past, there’s already new privacy concerns to worry over about technologies of the future!

Reference: The world’s first hack: the telegraph and the invention of privacy – The Guardian


2 thoughts on “The telegraph and privacy

  1. Pingback: Predicting internet advertisement blocking in 1973 | RAMTOP

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