BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A., 2000 FEB 24 (NB) -- Art and reality are often mirror images of each other. While that's not normally a problem if the medium is photography; when the medium is the printed word - and the artist is Tom Maddox - things can get downright scary.
Tom Maddox is the editor of PrivacyPlace, an online magazine concerned with privacy issues that can be accessed at http://www.privacyplace. However, Maddox is also a published novelist of cyberpunk science fiction, as well as a scriptwriter who has co- authored a script for the popular television series, "The X-Files," which will air Feb. 27 on the Fox Network.
The script, co-authored with noted science fiction writer William Gibson, will be the second that the pair has had aired on "The X-Files." Their first collaboration, "Killswitch'" aired about two years ago and has made frequent appearances in reruns.
Maddoxx told Newsbytes that his concern about online privacy issues does provide some of the material for his fiction writing. The only difference is, he said laughingly, is that in cyberpunk science fiction you start with the premise that an individual's privacy has already been taken away. "That way," he says, "you can make bad things happen to your characters."
On a more realistic and serious note, Maddoxx is concerned with two primary online privacy issues. The first is that of profiling, using the Web to collect information about people without their knowledge. He is even more worried about the convergence of online and offline databases. Maddoxx cites DoubleClick as an example of the technology that has the ability to amass a great deal of information about a person's total online and offline purchasing habits, and their personal information, so they can direct advertising specifically at that individual.
Maddoxx's other area of concern is government regulation. He is particularly worried that some members of government are using the recent spate of Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against several popular Web sites as an excuse to eliminate anonymity on the Web. In this regard, he said, he is leery about the argument being made that anonymity is not necessary for a person who has nothing to hide and it's only the crooks that hide behind online anonymity.
Between the efforts of business and government, Maddoxx is afraid that soon there may be "nowhere to hide" in what will be a "total surveillance society."
The solution, according to Maddoxx, is education and support. Education means being aware of what is happening in the privacy area, getting the information from news reports, or better yet, from sources specifically concerned with privacy issues, such as privacyplace.com (http://www.privacyplace.com ).
Support means getting behind the various privacy organizations that are actively working to influence government in favor of Internet privacy, he said.
Maddox - who is also the author of the novel, "Halo," and several widely anthologized short stories, including the popular "Snake Eyes" - is currently devoting his energy to the redesign of the privacyplace.com Web site, which goes online Monday with an expected interview with Lawrence Lessing.
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com .
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