the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

On privacy and garbage

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property. … “She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way,” McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. “There were no signs on the garbage, ‘Do not open. Do not trespass.’ There was every indication…she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest.”

The question of whether your trash is private might seem academic. It’s not. Your garbage can is like a trap door that opens on to your most intimate secrets; what you toss away is, in many ways, just as revealing as what you keep.

There is something about poking through someone else’s garbage that makes you feel dirty, and it’s not just the stench and the flies. Scrap by scrap, we are reverse-engineering a grimy portrait of another human being, reconstituting an identity from his discards, probing into stuff that is absolutely, positively none of our damn business.

Willamette Weekly’s RUBBISH! Portland’s top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage–so we grabbed theirs. (original article link)

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