Ability does not equal permission

Somewhere I think there is a great quote about having the bomb and choosing not to use it. Or a lesson about parenting about letting your kids win at chess, even though you can clearly beat them in seven swift moves. Somewhere there must be a quote that gracefully explains that ability does not equal permission or morality.

In my work, I won’t spend more than 5 minutes researching a blogger. A cursory look at the about page to decide if he or she is possibly the type of person I’ve been tasked to find. A Google search of the site to see what they might have said on the topic or brand. More than that and it gets creepy. Just because I have the ability to find more information doesn’t mean I have permission to.

I have been stunned to find out how much online advertisers know about us. Based on clicks and behavior, the system can predict where we will go next. Whoa. And then you realize how much safeway knows about your shopping habits or borders knows about your home library based on the rewards card on your keychain. And when trying to find out who the wrong number was, I pop over to the Reverse Phone Duectory and am offered the public records of the person for just $15 or some small fee. Whoa. Creepy.

Ability to find information isn’t permission to find it. Ability to drop a nuclear weapon isn’t permission. Ability to overpower a woman physically isn’t permission to have sex with her.

Ability does not equal permission.

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