Person of Interest Season 3 Review “Nothing to Hide”

Nothing To Hide

The interplay between technology and privacy is currently a hot topic. With sexting, selfies, Foursquare, and the pervasiveness of social media generally, there is a digital footprint of where you go, what you eat, whom you talk to, and what you’re doing. Most of this is self-created. This area is something that Person of Interest has explored in the past and looked at again.

The company at the center of this week’s episode was all about sharing information – down to how much wine and yogurt you consume in a week. The person of interest was the head of the company that mined this consumer information and gathered it into a convenient database. Ostensibly, the purpose was to make life easier for people – the most simplistic example being that if the store knows you like to eat a certain kind of food, it can send you coupons that are personalized to your taste. The downside occurs when someone wants to opt out of this system. A young girl tried to get her information removed from the site after a stalker was able to track her down. The company ignored her requests and she was subsequently murdered. This sets her father off on a rampage of revenge against the company’s CEO, Wayne Kruger.

Kruger argues that the people who are most opposed to sharing their information are the ones who have something to hide. He quickly learns that his own sordid past is not buried as deeply as he believed. His extramarital affair is revealed at his anniversary party, his past criminal record is posted on the company’s website, and his sexist comments regarding his secretary are secretly recorded and shared with her. It’s rare on Person of Interest that you want the person to get what’s coming to him. But, Kruger was so sleazy, he needed a comeuppance. The most frustrating part was Kruger’s indifference to the implications and impacts from his technology. Finch tried to get him to see the error of his ways, and wound up being knocked unconscious. Only in the last possible moments, did Kruger realize the problems that exploiting people’s personal information can cause. It was too late. It wasn’t too big of a loss when he was killed.

The obvious question was whether Finch and his team had a right to lecture anyone about privacy considering the intrusiveness of the machine. As Finch explained, the machine does not invade people’s privacy because it doesn’t share more information than the Social Security number of the individual at issue. That doesn’t change the fact that the machine still knows more information than it is sharing. Is that in and of itself an invasion of one’s privacy?

The episode hit on some of my recent musings about how the concept of privacy is changing. NPR had a piece on the amount of information people are willing to put on the internet, and highlighted a dating website where people share “anonymously” intimate details such as how many sexual partners they’ve had. It seems as though the younger generation is not as freaked out by this as the generation who remembers life before the internet. The dichotomy, or perhaps evolution, of privacy between older and younger generations makes it feel as though there are two completely different concepts of what privacy means.

On a more superficial level, the episode inched forwards some of our side stories. HR knows that Carter hasn’t relinquished her quest to find Calvin’s killer. Team Machine is starting to come together as a cohesive unit with their newest member, Shaw. It also looks like we may have a glimpse at another big bad on the horizon: the organization responsible for orchestrating Kruger’s humiliation and murder.

Next week’s episode looks to be lighter fare and will finally bring back Zoe. It’ll be fun to see what kind of trouble she, Shaw, and Carter get into.

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