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Terry J. Allen, “Reach Out and Track Someone ” Summary Essay

Allen discusses ethical and legal implications of cell phone tracking technology. He begins by noting how this technology benefits emergency responders tracing the source of 911 calls then moves to showing how cell phone “pings” have been used to solve murder cases. Allen discusses how telecom companies and the government do not divulge the extent of their monitoring activities and capabilities. The legality of wiretapping, collecting cell phone records, and tracing cell phones is already being debated. On one side of the debate are those that worry about protecting individual’s privacy.

On the other side are those that find that taking the time to process a search warrant can delay bringing criminals to justice. The author notes that the invasion of privacy is not just on the part of the government, but also in the hands of entrepreneurs searching to create profitable businesses. Article 2: Kate MacAulay, “Technology’s Peril and Potential,” summary MacAulay compares and contrasts viewpoints of two authors, George Ritzer and Sherry Turkle, in order to examine how values and morals are shaped my technology.

Both authors make note of the negative effects of technology. For Ritzer these problems trickle down to the individual from a larger societal movement (termed McDonaldization) whereas for Turkle technology poses a threat to an individual’s self-identity and relationships with others. In examining the authors’ overall views on technological advancement, MacAulay finds that Ritzer is almost entirely pessimistic while Turkle has a more positive, balanced view.

As Ritzer and Turkle both warn of the dangers technology poses, MacAulay advocates that we become aware of these dangers in order to use this technology in a safe manner, ultimately finding a way to use technology to become better people. Main Themes The main theme that these writings share is the recognition of the power of technology to impact our lives, both for the positive and the negative. Allen and MacAulay are similar in that neither takes a one-sided view of the issue; they examine the issue from both sides.

Allen, however, seems to be more cautionary in warning of the potential of the technology to infringe on people’s privacy. The writings differ with regard to the types of examples the authors use to illustrate their points. Allen uses information from diverse sources: popular advertisements, murder trials, government edicts, etc. His examples speak more directly to the reader. MacAulay, on the other hand, is comparing the views of two published authors, with whom the reader is most likely not familiar. How would Author A respond to Author B?

Allen would largely agree with MacAulay but would likely argue that it is perhaps a bit to optimistic to grant individuals that much control over how they use technology. As he states, businesses and the government have the capabilities to monitor how we use technology. We cannot use technology entirely in a personal manner. My Own Views After reading these two texts, I agree with the authors that technological advances come with some strings attached (including loss of privacy). I also agree with MacAulay’s discussion of the implications of creating alternate virtual identities (with regards to Turkle’s writing).

These writings have not so much changed my view on the subject as much as they have provided evidence supporting my pre-existent views. However, I was not aware of some of the legal implications of cell phone tracking discussed by Allen. This discussion raises the question of how laws must be changed or re-interpreted to deal with issues that result from technological advances. I had also never thought of these issues from a top-down approach (as MacAulay discusses with regards to the phenomenon of McDonaldization).

Now, I see the main controversy as being who holds the responsibility for ensuring that technology is used responsibly. Is it the consumer? Is it the government? Is it the businesses that create the technology? Views I Wish to Share After much thought, I have come to realize that the regulation of technology cannot be left to any one individual or group. These writings have given me greater understanding of the complexities of the issue, and as a user of technology, I am very much interested in ensuring that I use technology safely.

The new perspective that I wish to share with my readers is that using technology is not necessarily an individual’s right. It is a privilege, and as a privilege, there are some conditions attached. If one is to use technology to create virtual identities different from one’s own, one has to take responsibility for how that identity impacts one’s relationship with the self and with others in real life. Similarly, if one chooses to use a cell phone, one has to understand that the possibility exists for the usage to be tracked.


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