One of our primary concerns has always been physical security. For instance, we were instructed to be careful to not lose our house keys, lest someone break into our home. More recently, digital security issues have emerged as an ongoing concern. For instance, we have become accustomed to warnings to keep our passwords secure, lest we become easy prey for digital intruders. Now one must worry about innovations that bridge these two realms.

One example that I recently came across, but that has been around for some years, is the notion that a key may be duplicated just from a photograph of the key; the physical key is not required. The duplicate key may be filed from a blank key, or created from scratch by a 3D printer. There is obviously a convenience factor here, as this means that one would not need to mosey down to the local cobler or hardware store to make duplicates. However, there is also a distressing possibility. In the past, copies of keys could be surreptitiously made by making a clay molding of a key, as was commonly seen in heist films. Copying a key via photo allows one to make a key from a photo found online and locate the target’s house online based on various indicators (e.g., the metadata behind the photo, the site upon which it is located, the user account used to post the photo, etc.). The worrywart in me is trying to remember whether I have ever posted a picture in which my keys were lying around.

All that to say, what should be considered “personal information” in digital media, including online, may surprise you. It can include physical objects.