Just this past Sunday, word got out about Central Intelligence Agency Director, David Petraeus, and his recent resignation due to an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Information about the scandal is arising left and right from emails, text messages and voicemails. Every day this week, we have heard more and more about this case as it unravels and information is collected. Most of this information is not in the form of written notes or letters; it’s emails. It kind of makes you wonder how much easier it would have been to get away with an affair back before computers and smart phones were common.
Before the Internet became the powerhouse that it is today, if a government official wanted to engage in some immoral activities, the only forms of communication they had were the telephone and handwritten letters. Of course voicemail and records of these letters may become a problem during an investigation, but there was a much smaller amount of information about each scandal floating around. There were no company emails to circumvent, no “sexts” to try and delete from their smartphone’s hard drive and there were no Facebook messages that tend to stay on the servers long after deletion. People could practically get away with murder thanks to the limited paper trail. Nowadays, in our increasingly connected world, nothing is off limits to the investigation. Internet histories, Twitter accounts and even recent Amazon purchases have all been used one way or another as evidence in a scandal. Most of this information is just sitting right out in the open, no search warrant needed. Even regular citizens are feeling the heat. Spouses suspicious of their partner’s extra-curricular activities can easily search for clues through a Facebook page hack or even a quick glance at their Skype recent call list. Divorce lawyers eat this kind of stuff up, so a cheating spouse’s best bet, would be to go completely off the grid.
With scandals like the Petraeus case popping up more often, many people like to assume that our society’s morals have subsided. I’d like to believe that our morals are the same as they always were, people are just getting caught a lot more frequently.