Most of us have little occasion to crack open the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the mental health profession’s guidebook for classifying mental health problems.
If we were to scan that hefty tome, however, and then focus on disorder number 301.0, we would read about something called Paranoid Personality Disorder. Basically, it describes someone who shows a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others, interpreting their motives as malevolent.
Among other things, such as individual suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her, and reads hidden negative or threatening meanings into apparently benign remarks or events.
I bring this up, because I see increasing evidence of this pattern of behavior as a trend in our society, and it is often linked to the rise of technology.
For example, a recent story in USA Today notes that “civil liberties advocates” are concerned that a certain color laser printer technology will lead to government spying on political dissidents, whistleblowers, or “anyone who prints materials that authorities want to track.”
The “advocates” are subsequently identified as the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation. According to the group’s website, it consists of lawyers, policy analysts, activists and technologists who “fight for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the U.S. government or large corporations.”
According to the USA Today piece, laser printers leave microscopic yellow dots on each printed page to identify the printer’s serial number–which could presumably lead to identification of the printer’s owner. Invisible to the naked eye, the dots can only be seen using a blue LED light and are used by agencies such as the Secret Service to identify counterfeit bills created with a laser printer. This technology, the article adds, has existed for some years.
I asked computer hardware expert Lou Slawetsky, president of Rochester, N.Y.-based Industry Analysts, for his take on the privacy fears noted.
“I don’t see it as a threat, but I’m not a dissident,” he quips. “The only people worried about being found out are those who are doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. Manufacturers used to embed a chip in copiers that would not allow currency to be copied–it would turn out blank–but since we have changed our currencies, that doesn’t work any more. So now we have the dots.