It was, I believe, Marshall McLuhan who first coined the term "global village", although others attribute the term to Harold Innis. Regardless of the 'who', suffice it to say that the advent of modern media, particularly the internet, has given real meaning to the term.
Now in such a village, where inhabitants are all known to each other, as are jobs and occupations, a certain lack of privacy prevails. Indeed, such a lack can be looked upon as a very Good Thing, a kind of early warning system, if you will, with everyone dependent upon each other to help out in times of danger or distress.
It is also a very Bad Thing, for precisely the same reason. In Internet lingo, this goes under the wee acronym, 'tmi'. (Too much information).
It is this aspect that appears to be causing all manner of angst, hand-wringing, and flossing of teeth. You see, our electronic global village makes all manner of information readily available, even information that was previously "classified". Hackers are having a field day, and it begs the question, why on earth would you store such "classified" information in electronic form in the first place? All of which brings us to the curious case of, not Benjamin Buttons, but Edward Snowden.
According to the world's press, Mr. Snowden, a former American spy agency contractor, fled the United States and went to Hong Kong. He is accused of leaking details of U.S. surveillance programs. From Hong Kong, he then went to Russia, winding up at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. Vladimir Putin, of course, knows nothing.*
The U.S. wants him back badly.
But maybe not. He did, somehow, manage to leave Hong Kong without a passport. Just you try doing that.
Moreover, Mr. Snowden is viewed in America in a very Manichean way -- he is either a hero, or a traitor that has committed treason. It's about a 50 / 50 proposition, something politicians hate. Regardless of what you do, 50 per cent will hold it against you.
And aside from the 'cause' crews such as the A.C.L.U. or the Republican Party, the American populace doesn't appear that worried about being surveilled. Way deep down they know that the government isn't that interested in eavesdropping on a conversation that has to do with creating a perfect peach cobbler, or arranging the car pool for the kids involved on the local soccer club. If the government really must listen in, go for it guys.
Perhaps we never really did have privacy, other than those private matters that we keep to ourselves. So Winston Churchill: "It is wonderful how all men can keep secrets they have not been told."
* I am waiting for the Toronto Star to feature an alleged video showing Mr. Snowden ensconced in Rob Ford's basement.