[ISN] Note to Cell-Phone Users: There Is No Cone of Privacy

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Jan 26 1999 - 12:19:26 PST

  • Next message: mea culpa: "[ISN] Hole Found in NT Password Tester"

      This message is in MIME format.  The first part should be readable text,
      while the remaining parts are likely unreadable without MIME-aware tools.
      Send mail to mimeat_private for more info.
    Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; CHARSET=iso-8859-1
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: QUOTED-PRINTABLE
    Content-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.96.990124225514.7572cat_private>
    Forwarded From: darek milewski <darekmat_private>
    Note to Cell-Phone Users: There Is No Cone of Privacy
    Why do they insist on baring all in public, at crowd-piercing decibel
    We're told that 13 million cell phones were sold in the U.S. last year.=20
    And that one reason to finally buy one now is the improved security that
    digital technology offers against James Bond-style eavesdropping devices
    and plain old rooftop satellite dishes.=20
    But after spending a few days at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las
    Vegas in early January with 94,000 of the cellularly inclined, I'm
    persuaded that an inordinate number of them have been defrauded. They seem
    to think that the green button labeled "talk" on the front of their phones
    activates an invisible, soundproof barrier that envelops them in a cone of
    privacy. Un-uh. Spend half of just about any day in an airport terminal,
    and you could write biographies of several blabbermouth travelers plus
    critiques of their various business strategies based on the detailed
    voice-mail messages they leave from their cell phones.=20
    It's as if the illusion of privacy that prompts automobile drivers to take
    care of certain hygiene functions while sitting idly in a traffic jam
    behind see-through glass has spread to the cell phone world. Where once
    you would hear callers say things like "Let's talk about this when I see
    you," or "Let me call you back from a more secure phone," they now openly
    and animatedly discuss the sordid details of deals gone sour, customers in
    arrears, all manner of excuses to the missus for why the business trip
    will be taking longer than planned, and those icky, oily things marketing
    types say to the people they're trying to impress.=20
    CELLULAR REALITY. Granted, my informal CES field study may have been
    skewed toward the digitally obsessed. Every phone peddler imaginable
    attended the show, along with legions of folks hawking every sort of
    cellular add-on from holsters to waterproof "Aquapac" jackets that let you
    yammer while wind-surfing. Still, I've seen enough to conclude that
    cell-phone callers seem to have evolved two laws for living within the
    realm of distorted cellular reality.=20
    Rule one: If you don't make eye contact with those around you, you can
    speak as loudly as you want and no one will hear. (Memo to the guy in the
    striped shirt in the Las Vegas Airport: I know I appeared to be engrossed
    in my novel, but, really, your wife has every good reason to be annoyed
    with you.)=20
    Rule two: If you become aware that other people are listening to you,
    perform one of several rituals to try and control what they think. For
    instance, you're talking on the cell phone and suddenly become aware that
    you are not alone. Begin bouncing lightly on the balls of your feet while
    looking around. That will signal everyone: "I'm anxious to get off this
    call. I'm really not the type who likes to spend all day on a cell call
    but the other person won't let me go."=20
    Now, let's say you've been caught insipidly wheedling someone to get a
    sale or a favor. Roll your eyes exaggeratedly while doing a half-smirk.
    Even if you keep wheedling, rest assured that everyone will think: "Oh,
    good, he's not nearly the shallow, sycophantic person he sounds like."=20
    LOOSE LIPS. Yet another way to signal an eavesdropper that you are simply
    playing the game is with the withering post-hangup crack. A man behind me
    in a cab line in front of a hotel packed with CES attendees provided a
    good example of this (The names have been changed to protect the
    "Bert? Hey, John Smith here... Hey listen, I hope you realize you are
    welcome to attend our sports event. Or more accurately we NEED you there.
    =2E .[bla bla gratuitous flattery bla bla]=85O.K., so I tell you what, I'll
    call you later to catch up, O.K.?"  Three-second pause while he listens to
    an answer. "O.K., great." He hangs up and says to the back of my head:
    "Yeah, sure you will."=20
    So what's the answer here? One possibility, I think, is to sit all
    cell-phone buyers down to watch a little movie about the myth of the cone
    of privacy. Something on the order of those World War II films about a
    U.S. spy being tortured because some deck swabby talked too much to a
    hussy in a shore leave saloon.=20
    It's either that or accept the consequences -- including the fact that for
    some people the green talk button activates what I call the "Jerk
    Amplification System."  At the San Francisco Airport, I was again reading
    my novel when a silver-haired, anvil-jawed executive with an elegant
    briefcase and every pin-stripe in place came charging into the waiting
    area. Just as he passed my bench he bellowed furiously: "We don't need to
    pay a lawyer $250 an hour to tell us that one plus one equals two."=20
    I can't spell the sound people make when they're trying not to laugh.  But
    about half a dozen of us made it and then faked a collective cough. The
    guy next to me, with timing Jay Leno would envy, said: "You know, he ought
    to be able to find somebody who could do that for a hundred and a
    Now, everyone is laughing out loud, but our man, oblivious and
    unrelenting, proceeds to get in line, check in, and return to the waiting
    area, never halting his harangue for a moment.  Finally, he puts down the
    satchel and employs another popular cell-phone maneuver: The Free Other
    Hand Stabbing Forcefully in the Air. "Go get 'em, Tiger,"  someone else
    Really, I thought it was so funny I pulled out my cell phone and left my
    husband a voice mail to call me at my hotel so I could tell him... oh,
    never mind.=20
    By Joan O'C. Hamilton in San Francisco
    Subscribe: mail majordomoat_private with "subscribe isn".
    Today's ISN Sponsor: Internet Security Institute [www.isi-sec.com]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:17:20 PDT