Lisa Markwell: Private lives are a thing of the past

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It is now safer to assume that nothing is really private any more. The news that our mobile telephone billing information has routinely been sold by T-Mobile employees to the highest bidder is just the latest in the chip, chip, chipping away of our closely guarded personal information. Those cold calls to ask if one was about to finish a mobile phone contract were always suspiciously prescient, and now we know why.

Does this matter? Can't we just end such hollow marketing shpiel with a brisk "no thanks"? Even if we could (and the ongoing success of ever-more grandiose Nigerian financial scams suggests not all of us can) it's the double whammy of one's privacy being invaded with the damned phone call and the fact that some nameless, faceless salesman knows more about us than we might usually admit to our friends. (Or is it just me that finds it shaming to admit that I agreed to 18 months at some exorbitant rate because the bloke at Handsets R U persuaded me, the luddite, that it was a good idea?)

The mobile phone scandal came the day before it was announced that the London borough of Croydon was installing surveillance cameras inside homes, pointing outwards, to keep tabs on what's going on in the neighbourhood. As a deterrent against anti-social behaviour it is commendable, but in the hands of busybodies who are more interested in noting who comes in late ("dirty stop-out"), whose children let themselves in with a key at the end of the school day, and who's loading up the car for a fortnight's holiday – for instance – it's an unnerving prospect.

At the very least it's another bit of privacy being eroded. If someone could invent a gold standard, snitch-proof way of storing information so that no one can financially – or otherwise – benefit from it, that would be helpful for us, and profitable for them. Perhaps not – is there more money to be made from safely storing information, or finding ways to extract it and sell it on?

Or to use one example, do the supermarkets make or lose money by logging our spending preferences and giving us loyalty points? I think we all know the answer to that one. I have friends who won't use supermarket loyalty cards as they see them as an infringement of personal preference information but the lure of "free" groceries makes many of us sign up, and turn a blind eye to more nameless, faceless folk knowing how much Chablis we drink or how often we buy a newspaper.

So, let's just assume everything about us is now more or less public knowledge. And that unless we have a conversation face to face, someone, somewhere, is recording it, as Gordon Brown has just discovered for himself. There are already strong signals that every email, social networking status update and text message is being read beyond its intended audience.

Privacy is a luxury few can afford these days – it costs a great deal to be whisked through an airport unnoticed or to hire the chef from a favourite restaurant to cook for you at home to avoid prying eyes. None of us even know who those privileged people are.

Then again many of us could switch to pay-as-you-go phones, shop in independent grocers and visit our friends, rather than txting them. And that might be a good thing in more ways than just foxing the information leeches.

Boy, I just don't get this kind of man

David Miliband is, allegedly, attractive. Hillary Clinton says so in a baffling statement (although not completely baffling because it confirms what I always suspected – that she has lousy taste in men).

Miliband falls into the category of "boy man"; eerily youthful, well scrubbed, endlessly unsophisticated and often slightly pigeon-toed. I wonder if Hillary feels the same way about the equally boyish Tory Michael Gove?

These sex geeks, as opposed to sex gods, also include the actors Zac Efron, Dev Patel and the star of the moment, Robert Pattinson. I really don't get him. "Callow youth" just about sums him up, with his bum fluff beard, gangly posture and blank expression. It's mystifying that anyone over the age of 14 should swoon over Twilight but swooning they are. I've overheard several groups of grown women making plans to see New Moon, the sequel to the teen vampire flick.

Boys are useful for lots of things – delivering newspapers, say, or explaining how an iPhone works. But as objects of desire? No. Hillary Clinton would be better off waiting until David Miliband develops a bit more grey hair and a careworn, crumpled look. Surely it can't be long coming...

Financier deserves nothing but derision

Are you following the case of Jordan Wimmer versus Mark Lowe? The financiers' sex discrimination and harassment case has been rumbling along at a tribunal hearing for some time, but the slightly grubby tidbits hit a new high (or should that be low?) when Mr Lowe – the man whose lewd and crass comments were the alleged cause of Ms Wimmer's descent into depression – had to explain away a particularly creepy claim. Namely, that he took a female escort clad in hotpants to a business meeting and tried to pass her off as a colleague.

For his part Lowe says she was not a prostitute and that it was a function not a meeting. He has admitted sending Ms Wimmer offensive "blonde" jokes and perusing escort agency websites in the office. While not wishing to diminish the distress Ms Wimmer must have suffered, what I can't understand is why Lowe wasn't the out-and-out object of derision by those around him. "I was acting in a gentlemanly way," he claims.

Oh please. He was acting like what he is, a sad, unattractive old man who must be a bit soft in the head if he thinks anyone would be impressed by an Asian woman in hot pants at a business function.

Lowe might be a legend in the hedge-fund industry, but in the annals of witty lotharios, he's a dead loss.

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