Beware the digital fingerprints you leave behind!

“Digital dangers” abound, but no matter how they are transmitted, they really have nothing to do with the medium in which they are transmitted and everything to do with certain weaknesses almost all of us possess and must learn to control.


The second article driving that very point home appeared just three days after the first, and detailed the allegations levied against two employees of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.  The opening paragraphs of the November 16th Los Angeles Times story (“Calif. Sheriff Probes Exchange of Bloodied face Photos”) read, as follows:

“After a violent confrontation with a teenage suspect, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy took a photo of the man's bloodied face and texted it to Sgt. Eric Gonzalez, a friend who worked at Men's Central Jail.

A few hours later, Gonzalez responded by sending his own photo of a battered suspect: a jail visitor who had been kicked, punched and pepper-sprayed by deputies.

The man in Gonzalez's photo had two black eyes, one swollen shut, and blood streaming down his face.

"Looks like we did a better job," Gonzalez wrote his colleague. "Where's my beer big homie."

"Hahaha," the deputy responded, according to a text message exchange reviewed by The Times.”

Just… genius.  Of course, the comments are being characterized as “misconstrued” by Sgt Gonzalez, and maybe they have been, but will that matter in the court of public opinion?  Internal Affairs?  A judge and jury, where at least one of the prisoners has already decided to take the matter?

Our cell phones are maybe the most personal of personal computers; they are lifelines to family and friends, gateways to the whole of the information superhighway tucked comfortingly in our back pockets, keeping us more connected than ever.  Perhaps it’s because they are so ubiquitous we forget the danger they represent.  But no matter how they are transmitted, the digital dangers we all face really have nothing to do with the medium in which they are transmitted and everything to do with certain weaknesses almost all of us possess and must start learning to control.

In our next article in this two-part series, we’ll look at what those weaknesses are, how they might hurt us, and the steps necessary to counter them.  In the meantime, stay safe… on the street and online.

 

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