Privacy: A Dying Concept

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In a world that is becoming more technologically advanced by the day, the line between personal and public seems to blur. When the distinction of that line can mean the difference between justice and letting a guilty person walk free, it can be hard to see the reasoning behind keeping a private life, private. However, it is important to remember that those who will be enforcing this are human and capable of error and corruption.

In cases such as when the FBI ordered Apple to give up the password of an iPhone in their custody and Apple refused, the debate of how far privacy online was able to be taken was brought into the public eye. Some were willing to give up online privacy in cases such as these if it would bring justice. However, this thought is very damaging and can end up being a slippery slope when it comes to giving up rights for safety.

To seek privacy is to be human. The act of searching for privacy is not born out of a want to hide a wrongdoing, but simply to maintain dignity or to be alone. If someone is watched long enough, there will eventually be a reason to have them arrested. This kind of corruption can be used against minorities or someone the person working in law enforcement simply does not like.

People relinquishing privacy in favor of security is being used in many high schools today. While there is no evidence that using a clear, plastic backpack or going through a metal detector every morning provides any protection against acts of violence, they make people feel safer. This is a practice known as “security theater”. The problem with this is that the safety it provides is not real. The practice does nothing but make people feel safer, but it also makes them give up their privacy. The same can be said about letting law enforcement search through whoever’s private data they choose.

In cases such as these, it is necessary to ask how much one is willing to pay for safety. The distinction between necessary and trigger happy, especially when law enforcement can search through private data, must be clear. Inevitably, not straight away, but eventually, it will be relaxed.

It can be argued that, if someone is not doing anything wrong, then law enforcement has no cause to watch them. However, it is easily forgotten that law enforcement gets to decide on the definition of “wrong”.

One of the downfalls of such a technologically-advanced world is the lack of privacy. With mobile phones, one is required to be almost “on-call” at all times during the day. Devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, are constantly listening, waiting for their trigger phrase to be said. Everything is waiting to be connected to everything else. It can be argued that privacy is a thing of the past. While, in some cases, this advancement is breathtaking and can save lives, it is important to draw a line that cannot be crossed.  Once given away, privacy cannot be taken back.

It is important to stay vigilant in an ever-advancing world. While these new achievements should be enjoyed for what they are, a certain level of awareness must be constantly exercised. Convenience does not outweigh the risk of losing the sense of self.