When he writes, award winning author Corey Doctorow lets his fictional characters deliver his message.
When he speaks in person he needs no characters to express his point of view as he did himself to more than 50 people Tuesday at a Deerfield Public Library sponsored event at Deerfield High School.
Earlier: Award Winning Author To Speak at DHS
A science fiction writer, Doctorow used the main character of one of his books, 17-year-old Marcus, to take on the Department of Homeland Security. As a speaker, there are no disguises when he talks about the potential loss of liberty through the abuse of technology.
Marcus is the main character in “Little Brother,” Doctorow’s tome selected as the One Book One Zip Code selection of the Deerfield Public Library. Macrus is swept up in the hysteria surrounding a terrorist attack, temporarily detained and returns to find his world a police state. He decides to fight the Department of Homeland Security himself.
When he speaks of his concerns, Doctorow does not need a character. “It starts with prisoners or mental patients,” Doctorow said. “It extends to children and poor people; the work place could be next and eventually could come to all people.”
Doctorow told the story of the school district in Lower Merion, PA, a community he described as much like the North Shore. He told how each student was given a free computer to do their schoolwork whether in the classroom or at home.
“This month they settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),” Doctorow said. A principal was ready to suspend a student for taking drugs after seeing the child taking a pill in his bedroom. “‘How did you see that?’” Doctorow said the young person told the principal. The student was eating candy and his parents took legal action.
Paying closer attention to a computer and the operating system used is one suggestion Doctorow had to avoid invasions of privacy. “We must take charge of our technology and operating systems to keep from being spied on,” he said.
Poor people fell victim to technology abuses when they tried to rent a laptop with their payments going toward an eventual purchase. “They put a software LoJack in the computer,” Doctorow said. “They (the rental company) saw people having sex, changing clothes.”
Doctorow was not happy with the government action against the company. “They (the FTC) said to never do it again unless it is in the fine print,” he said. He sees electronic surveillance affecting all people citing the example of tracking devices California will soon use for people in car pool lanes.
“Computers are learning more than a confessor, than any priest, has ever been told,” Doctorow said. He explained the reason information a person tells a confessor or a spouse is not allowed as testimony in court is to protect those relationships “Turning against that is a real problem.”
In the end, Doctorow suggests people be vigilant protecting their privacy and information. “The next time it happens strength will lead to strength,” he said advocating protective action by people.