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Invasion of the privacy snatchers

I have made it devilishly hard for hackers to steal nude pictures of me off my computer — by not taking any. It’s so much simpler than trying to remember a big, long password and trying to keep the photos private.

“Even if you had nude pictures, no one in their right mind would hack them,” Sue said. “Every time we go through security at the airport I can hear the TSA people vomiting in the back room. They want to put you on the ‘no fly’ list so they don’t ever have to see your cellulite again. It’s like you’re hoarding the stuff.”

“Don’t you think that at the end of a long day, the TSA workers probably go home and look at pictures of fully dressed people? Who would be surprised to find out they have a stash of L.L. Bean catalogs under their mattresses? But then, maybe we’re the perverted ones. It seems that you and I are the only people on the planet who don’t have nude pictures of ourselves on our computers.”

“Speak for yourself.”


“Just kidding. I guess something’s wrong with us,” she said. “We’re always wearing clothes. All we’ve got is pictures of ourselves on vacation wearing clothes, in family pictures wearing clothes, at weddings, reunions and funerals, all the time wearing clothes. What were we thinking? If a funeral isn’t a good time to strip down and let it all hang out, when is?”

“Me, I wonder why anyone would spend all that time trying to break into a celebrity’s computer to look at nude pictures when they could just hack a few bucks from someone’s Home Depot account and go to a Miley Cyrus concert. Hacking to find nude photos seems like a lot of work for a lot of nothing. What kind of people have that much free time? Inmates? Mental patients? Members of Congress? But then, I repeat myself.

“And it’s not as if they were selling the pictures,” I continued. “They passed them along for free. That’s the part that has the celebrities most upset, I’ll bet. No doubt they had planned to sell the pics themselves and give the money to charity.”

“Remember when you used to have to send your film out to get it developed?” Sue asked. “Maybe that’s why there are so many nude pictures floating around. Now every phone is a camera. You have to wonder — how long will it be before every refrigerator is a camera? Every toaster? Every TV set? Every steering wheel? One day you’ll go downstairs to get a midnight snack and the next thing you know, there will be a picture of you on Facebook in your birthday suit.”

She was painting a pretty horrible picture of the future. But she’s right — what came first, cat videos or cellphones with cameras? Now they make inexpensive cameras you can put on your cat. Or your teenager. Or your husband. They can put them on personal drones and catch you sunbathing in the backyard. Of course, so can Google Earth.

I called a friend in another state once, and while we were talking, I zoomed in on his house from Google’s Street View and asked him whose gray car was sitting in his driveway. I read him the license plate number.

I thought he was going to have a stroke. You would have thought I had just posted nude pictures of him on the Internet.

“It’s just a car,” I said. “Your neighbors can see it; it’s not like it’s private. People can see you in it when you drive to the grocery store. What’s the big deal?”

But it was a big deal to him: an invasion of his privacy, and I was the invader. The really odd thing is that I hadn’t seen this guy in 20 years. We met again on Facebook. He posts pictures of everything that happens in his family — every birthday, almost every meal.

I wonder if it’s his privacy that I invaded, or his publicity.

Contact Jim Mullen at

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