Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Severity Overlooked

In chapter 5, Marcus is released from prison and he returns to his home. He starts up his self-constructed laptop and realizes that something is wrong with it after the power cord refuses to stay connected. He now realizes that the entire casing of the computer was no longer aligned properly. After his parents go to sleep, Marcus rises from his bed and makes room on his desk for his laptop. He removed the outer casing and realized that the keyboard and logic-board weren't connected properly. When Marcus looked more closely, he realized that there was something underneath the cord. It was then that he realized that his computer had been bugged. Doctorow then describes Marcus' overwhelming anxiety and paranoia taking over. This scene stood out to me because I recently wrote a paper on data mining in which I firmly presented my opinion that privacy should be completely discarded in order to maintain security. The panic that ensues Marcus' discovery completely opened my eyes to the seriousness of an individual's right to privacy. Clearly I was biased in the past in that I never dealt with a violation of my rights to the degree that Marcus had to endure. Marcus states, "I'd been feeling paranoid when I got home. Now I was nearly out of my skin. It felt like I was back in jail…". This comparison between a violation of privacy and jail depicts the seriousness of the situation.

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1 Comment

  1. sareennl

    I never truly felt privacy was that important when the trade off was better homeland security. I’ve always supported having more security because terroristic threats are even more prevalent today than before. With that being said, the “overwhelming anxiety and paranoia” that Marcus experiences cannot be ignored. I too was biased because I never saw a first hand account of an invasion of privacy. Marcus’s privacy is completely invaded, and the bug hurts Marcus more than it helps the DHS. This made me wonder how does a government decide how far they should go to protect its citizens. As a cost of security, how greatly do they measure privacy? As phone-taps have become a normal method to ensure security, will the government start tapping video-chats? If Marcus described that he felt like he was in jail, I couldn’t imagine how society would react if all there technology was monitored.

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