David Horsey's cartoon illustrates the worries many Westerners have about recent advances in the technology of electronic surveillance. Citizens are normally wary of government intrusion in their private lives in the US,swheresthe federal courts have acted as enforcers of constitutional safeguards①. The effort to track down Al Qaeda operatives and prevent further terrorist attacks has speeded up the creation of integrated surveillance systems. Some Americans approve; others feel strongly that the Bush administration is going much too far.
In the cartoon we see a naked American citizen. This is figurative, of course; the man feels naked because his private life is so open to government snoops. If he logs onto the internet, his movements are tracked by marketing firms - but this tracking can easily be used for other purposes. If he deletes an e-mail message, he assumes it's gone for good, but it's not: there are "ghosts" in his hard drive. It has long been possible to bug regular telephones, but cellphone conversations can easily be intercepted too. Above the man's head we see surveillance cameras. What we don't see are the very small surveillance cameras now obtainable, or the increasingly sophisticated software for identifying individuals. To be truly free of the possible of surveillance, this man has to take a hike in the deep woods!