Thursday, May 9, 2013

Info Age Fail 5: Privacy

This is Part Five: See Part One here

The main problem with privacy is the misuse of the word. It frequently gets tangled up with anonymity (doing something in public without anyone knowing it is you. I talked about this on in the previous post), and secrecy(retaining information within a subset of the public, this subset can be as small as one: yourself. The smaller the group, the more likely the secret is to remain secret. There is very little legal protection for secrecy, apart from what you may have established via contractual obligation with the secret keepers).

Privacy is neither of those. Privacy is freedom from intrusion. For the most part, privacy is an illusion. The constitution provides some protections. The Third amendment says Soldiers can't be placed in your home during peacetime (wartime can be allowed in circumstances "prescribed by law"). The Fourth amendments protects your person, house, papers and personal effects from unlawful search and/or seizure without specific court approval via a lawfully obtained warrant (probable cause). That is the extent of it. The confines of your home and your person are the extent of your privacy (This does bring in to question the legality of airport searches though, that is pretty personal, and without a warrant...). Nowhere else can you expect any. As a society, we generally recognize and choose to honor privacy in a few additional places. Bathrooms typically afford some privacy. Public phones often have a booth that provides a degree of privacy.

If you are on the street, in a store, at a restaurant, or public sporting event and pick your nose, be prepared for it to end up on YouTube. If you post it on your facebook wall, or tweet it or blog it, don't be shocked when your employer, family, significant other, etc... finds out about it (think of the internet as the worlds largest street corner, there are Billions of people standing there at any one time).

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