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Privacy… Is it possible? And why should you care?


Privacy is a term that has somewhat lost its meaning over time.  It’s a topic that’s been contested over for sure, but what is doubtful is whether it can be achieved or not.  Of course, there is no true privacy in this day and age–in the absolute sense of the word.  But why does privacy matter?

We should be allowed to have the choice to make something private or public.  If everything that’s private in our lives is made public or publicly available, we’re robbed of the chance to even build the courage to come out into the public to share something that is very private to us.  We’re robbed of our own mouthpiece and freedom to express, that is, the way WE want to express ourselves.

Like Bruce Shneier, I believe

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that’s why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

So, as a social worker who advocates for others, as an artist, and at the most basic level as an individual person, I feel like privacy at some degree can be achieved.  It’s my right to some level of privacy, and it’s my responsibility to make sure others also enjoy some privacy.

There are some ways to reconcile the gap between true privacy and the intrusion that comes with the wonders of internet and mobile technology.  You can achieve reasonable internet privacy.  It’s important to be aware of and educate others about how to be responsible with your own and others’ information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Think before you type.

But even with advanced hacking and surveillance technology, there is also emerging technology to counter these threats to our privacy.  Silent Circle is in the works of coming out with their latest, groundbreaking, “surveillance-proof” smart phone app.  This peer-to-peer mobile app will supposedly enable you to send files securely by scrambling the data and then set a timer to automatically “burn” the file from both devices.  This would not make some government agencies happy.  But hooray for those of us who want ways to keep our lives more private!

It’s important to know how to be safe and secure while also being social.  Social networks are great, but with businesses and employers encroaching more and more into employees’ lives via social networks, it’s easy to feel inhibited and almost oppressed.  A great go-to reference on privacy and social networks is here.  Technology will always be there and will always threaten to invade your privacy, but that’s why it’s important to know what your rights are and how to achieve some level of privacy.



One response

  1. Alice,

    This is an excellent video and you took several of the points and expanded on them in your own words. Very good job. I got a little nudgy when I couldn’t place where the video was coming from. I didn’t recognize the channel abbreviation. I wish you had included this copy from Privacy International’s YouTube channel under the video so I would have known who was talking to me.

    Privacy International asked lawyers, activists, researchers and hackers at Defcon 2012 about some of the debates that thrive at the intersection between law, technology and privacy. We also wanted to know why privacy matters to them, and what they thought the future of privacy looked like. This video is a result of those conversations.

    February 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

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