Can there be PRIVACY in a digital age?

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There is no simple yes and no answer to this question. The simple fact is, yes, privacy is possible. However, you would need to define what privacy means. Privacy today and privacy a decade ago had very different constitutions. Today, sharing your waking moments with only those you wish to share it with would be considered a win for privacy. Whereas 15 years ago, privacy meant absolute isolation.

As singer/songwriter pop star once said in a recent interview, “there is no such thing as a ‘right to privacy’”. (Blair, 2016) She explained that once she leaves her home and crosses the boarders of her property, she somewhat in a way belongs to the world. Notice the choice of words, “world”, and she could not have put it more elegantly, to be honest.

However, whether it is tinkering with the privacy settings on your Facebook, or locking yourself in your home, ultimately, there still is no such thing as privacy. Someone somewhere (if they wish to), can easily monitor anyone by manipulating almost anything digitized today. And if you think you are the type that none of this nonsense applies to because “I am too grown for social media”, think again. Just last month, WikiLeaks exposed the CIA and British intelligence, MI5, for allegedly developing and using a spyware that exploits a bug in Samsung devices, including Samsung mobile phones and televisions, that can allow them to remotely turn your tv on and/or use it as a listening and recording device. (Crilly, 2017)

One may ask, so what does this means for me? What does this mean for my privacy? Maybe a lot, maybe nothing at all. One could argue that, it’s just “the government” and “that’s their job”, since they have been tracking us for years via social insurance numbers, driver’s license numbers, national registration, tax payments, etc.; and those are all very valid reasons. However, let’s not have a short memory here. Lest we forget, it was less than five summers ago that Edward Snowdon leaked pertinent information that suggested that the CIA spent more time surveilling average everyday citizens, rather than their international enemies. Again, maybe this means nothing to you and as a good law-abiding citizen, you welcome the government into your home, your living room, your baby’s nursery, your kitchen…until you don’t. Furthermore, if they can do it, what’s preventing others from doing the same?

Nevertheless, beyond the ones and zeros of our home or office network, let us not forget that due to convergence, technology has become an integral part of our everyday life. It is so easy to capture a moment in crisp, clear, high definition quality photograph or video using a cell phone, CCTV cameras are a staple for most countries (like my home country, England) and almost every device (including our cars) has GPS imbedded into the technology. All of which reduces some form of privacy and makes us vulnerable.

In conclusion, our world is moving from one of privacy to one of trust. It all boils down to trusting the authorities, or business, or services who may have our private information, trusting that that information will not be abused, and trusting in the technology we possess and that our lives are too uninteresting for privacy to really matter; because that’s the true privacy that exists today. As aforementioned, privacy is relative, not universal, and the definition of what is considered as “privacy” will change from person to person (or organization to organization). This will depend on who the person is, what their needs are, how much trust they have in their environment and what are their expectations and criteria of privacy.

 

References

Blair, O. (2016, November 28). Lady Gaga cries recounting the dark side of fame during interview. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/lady-gaga-cries-dark-side-of-fame-cbs-interview-a7443431.html

Crilly, R. (2017, March 8). Wikileaks claims MI5 and CIA developed spyware to turn televisions and smart phones into bugs. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/07/wikileaks-claims-mi5-cia-developed-spyware-turn-samsung-tvs/

Moller, R. R. (2010). IT Audit Control and Security. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

 

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