In an ironic turn of events, it seems that Osama Bin Laden’s lack of connection to any location-aware devices or services is what tipped off authorities to his whereabouts. In a Pakistani town where many professionals live normal lives, drive cars, and are connected to at least a phone line, the expensive walled compound on the outskirts of town with no phone and no Internet drew obvious suspicion. While it certainly wasn’t the only data that led intelligence officials to believe that the leader of terrorist group Al-Qaeda was inside, according to ComputerWorld, it definitely bolstered what proof they already had. Officials already knew that Bin Laden was using only a trusted courier to transport information in and out, and communications in general amongst Al-Qaeda members is known to be low-tech and hard to track.
Aside from being an important facet in the operation to track down the terrorist mastermind, and only one small fact in what is determined to become an interesting and much analyzed years-long operation, the fact that a lack of data communication to a location was suspicious raises some important questions about privacy in the digital world. In a world where the number of people carrying location-aware smartphones is rising quickly, where social network activity continues to paint ever more detailed pictures of our real world lives, it makes one wonder if trying to block all of that will actually help your privacy. If you become the outsider who doesn’t communicate via socially accepted (and sometimes expected) modes, at what point is that person only attracting more attention?