Don't worry about your privacy, it disappeared a long time ago

Many people are genuinely concerned about encroachments on their privacy. It is hard to soothe their apprehensions when it often seems our every move is being monitored and recorded on one high-tech device or another. “Alexa, stop recording my conversations...”

County appraisers are doing little to ease people’s minds with a plan to use aerial images to help assess property values. It all sounds, as County Commissioner Mary Starrett termed the idea, “very Big Brotherish.”

It really isn’t all that Orwellian. At least it’s nothing new. About the only place to hide from aerial photography is Germany. Germans are insistent on privacy. Their government shields them from Google Street View and other public satellite imagery.

So your new barn would be safe from eyes in the sky if you moved it to, say, Munich. If you insist on remaining in the United States, there’s bad news. We are already one nation under surveillance. Yamhill County appraisers snagging a few extra aerial photos planes won’t make the situation any worse.

Americans are a peculiar lot. They fret about privacy. Then they slather all sorts of personal details about themselves and their families — complete with photos — on the Internet. People who still have landline phones want to keep their numbers unlisted, but anyone with a passing knowledge of the Internet can practically compile a dossier on them.

Go to Intelius.com and do a “people search” for just about anyone. You will likely find the person’s age and all the cities where he or she has lived since childhood. When it comes to privacy, that genie abandoned the bottle a long time ago. Now, through the magic of technology, this same genie can tell the world the model of car parked in your driveway.

The contract county commissioners inked with Pictometry International Dec. 12 just gives appraisers some high-definition photographs so they don’t have to do as many on-site inspections. Such inspections would invade people’s privacy a lot more than eye-in-the-sky technology that already exists.

Pictometry’s 3-D photography will likely reveal new construction and other changes on people’s properties in finer detail than Google Maps and Street Views, but again, the alternative is even more invasive on-site inspections.

There are legitimate concerns to have about government surveillance issues, but we don’t consider overhead images for appraisals as one of them.

As for overall privacy, if you are concerned, get off social media and live off the grid. Even then, sorry, but someone up there can still see you.


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