TODAY: Living in glass houses

glasshouses.jpgRemember, you shot it on your handphone – don’t cry if that intimate snap becomes public domain viewing

THIS is not new: A couple recording themselves having sex on video, promptly losing the recording and then reeling in horror as it is flashed all over the Internet. Think Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst, think Paris Hilton.

Read more at TODAYonline: [pdf][text]

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If you still don’t know what we’re talking about here, this is how blogger Ghost (www.bexafraid.com) describes the incident:

“She is (allegedly) a Nanyang Poly (NYP) IT student. The story goes that she (or he) filmed their sexual escapade on her handphone, someone stole her handphone and found the clip.

“As they say — the rest is history.”

So, does the fact that this happened in Singapore, with the couple being teenaged students in a local polytechnic, make it any less of a scandal? Even if they were allegedly of consenting age?

Apparently not — forums and blogs have pounced on the discovery of the video file, links to which have since been taken off some websites, but not before the clip had presumably been downloaded, seen by thousands, and re-distributed on personal websites and through email attachments.

As late as Sunday night, a link to a copy of the video could still be seen on forums such as sammyboy (http://forums.delphiforums.com/sammyboymod/), where readers took turns dissecting and analysing the clip, while some others posted links to fake files, just to irk curious browsers wanting a peek at the video.

Bloggers had a field day discussing the matter too, with some saying something like this was bound to happen.

“From the moment 3G phones went into development, and with the increase in popularity and widespread ownership of such phones, I have foreseen such an incident happening,” said blogger Jasper Chen (jasperthedummy.blogspot.com), who also added that he had once recorded himself in a similar setting, only to delete the clip after considering the fallout should the video end up in the wrong hands.

He’s also scornful of the chances the NYP video fading into obscurity in the near future. Says Jasper: “The Internet just works this way: Unstoppable.”

Unstoppable because readers’ curiosities will be piqued, especially by “reviews” of the video such as Ghost’s: “Frankly, it’s very stimulating and I got a little aroused too.”

For those of you who have had your curiosity (ahem) piqued by that quote, Ghost also writes that the clip has been deleted from his computer, so please do not email him for it — and you, gentle readers, are reminded that the distribution of pornographic material is illegal in Singapore.

Blog aggregator Tomorrow.sg published a link to a blog post that discussed the matter as well, attracting over 2,000 readers and 75 comments, with reactions ranging from disgust to sympathy for the couple starring in the clip.

“I think the victim is very ‘poor thing'”, said blogger Cobalt Paladin (cobaltpaladin.blogspot.com) in response to the article posted on Tomorrow.sg.

“Poor thing” probably for not realising, to paraphrase blogger and activist Alex Au (yawningbread.org), that with the advent of such high-propagation technology, we increasingly live in a society of glass houses, where it is increasingly difficult to safeguard one’s privacy — whether or not we have a right to that privacy.

I think there will be a whole slew of such incidents as people slowly adjust themselves to the fact that data-carrying infrastructures are getting faster and easier to use, and with that, the speed and ease with which information can be spread.

It doesn’t matter if there’s still the Undesirable Publications Act (last updated in 2003 to include “electronic transmission” apart from broadcasting). You could still, for instance, accidentally send a picture of yourself in a compromising situation to the wrong person and end up having a much broader audience than you intended, in addition to technically having committed a crime.

“I think she is a victim in having her phone stolen and her video published … but which self-respecting female would carry her own sex film around in a mobile phone?!” asked “sir lus” on Tomorrow.sg.

In this day and age, either a brazen one or a foolish one. Take that as a lesson learnt.

Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been entertaining readers at http://miyagi.sg for over a year, and once sent an sms to the subject matter of his complaining message.

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29 thoughts on “TODAY: Living in glass houses”

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  2. I am disappointed with your post because it carried unnecessary weblink to Sammyboy forum. The weblink will inevitably draw general public attention to the forum that contains disturbing discussions and contents which some are not suitable for the general public. As a senior blogger who contributes numerous articles to Today, I am certain you are capable of providing alternate form of descriptions without proving the weblink to Sammyboy.

    Indeed, in the ideal situation, the public should exercise their discretion and differentiate what is right and wrong. However, once again, is it necessary to expose the public to extreme discussions?

  3. I am disappointed with your post because it carried unnecessary weblink to Sammyboy forum. The weblink will inevitably draw general public attention to the forum that contains disturbing discussions and contents which some are not suitable for the general public. As a senior blogger who contributes numerous articles to Today, I am certain you are capable of providing alternate form of descriptions without proving the weblink to Sammyboy.

    Indeed, in the ideal situation, the public should exercise their discretion and differentiate what is right and wrong. However, once again, is it necessary to expose the public to extreme discussions?

  4. Mr. M, Thanks for turning us on to the TODAYonline article! I have linked to you from the Capital Region People blog and have quoted from TODAY. It’s pretty evident that young people both in Singapore and here in the United States have no clue just how vulnerable they are in these electronic times!

    I’ve been following the NYP incident and began to blog on it after it became apparent that, not only are there multiple ‘versions’ of the cellphone video that have been ‘leaked’ to the net, there are people looking to make money off of this young couples’ bad judgement (or did they, as some insist, plan this entire thing?)

    Nevertheless, no one seems to be concerned that they could possibly download a computer virus along with the clip. It’ll be interesting to witness the final outcome of this huge mess!

  5. Mr. M, Thanks for turning us on to the TODAYonline article! I have linked to you from the Capital Region People blog and have quoted from TODAY. It’s pretty evident that young people both in Singapore and here in the United States have no clue just how vulnerable they are in these electronic times!

    I’ve been following the NYP incident and began to blog on it after it became apparent that, not only are there multiple ‘versions’ of the cellphone video that have been ‘leaked’ to the net, there are people looking to make money off of this young couples’ bad judgement (or did they, as some insist, plan this entire thing?)

    Nevertheless, no one seems to be concerned that they could possibly download a computer virus along with the clip. It’ll be interesting to witness the final outcome of this huge mess!

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