Personal Privacy and Technology
The definition of privacy is an individual's condition of life. The technology we have today is slowly dissipating the privacy we have. People don't realize the risks they have with their privacy when they do things on the internet. They don't know how other people are invading privacy without them even knowing. Where is the line that separates privacy from security? This is an unstable controversy that has been going on since technology has existed. It is extremely easy to find information on anyone in the world with the technology we have, but how much information, and what people are allowed to do with this information, is a sensitive topic. To a great degree, our privacy has permanently vanished due to the computer revolution, and we are faced with choosing security and non-stop surveillance over privacy.
New trends in computers have shifted the controversy over privacy into how much privacy we must sacrifice in order to live in society. Data collection has become so advanced that people have relinquished much of their privacy without their awareness. For example, so-called Big Data will advance technology to the point that it will be able to follow people's smartphone trails, monitor their internet browsing habits, use special sensors, and even track genomic information (Lohr, 2013, internet). People will lose the last shred of their privacy as corporations and/or the government will be able to know the whereabouts of a person at all times. While many people may be concerned about the security of their bank accounts or credit cards being breached, Big Data poses a whole new type of controversy.
However, there is no doubt that programs like these erode our confidence in the privacy of our information. Some people might state that privacy must be sacrificed to avoid the risk of terrorism, but privacy is improtant for a lot of reasons. According to McFarland (2012): "Reverence for the human person as an end in itself and as an autonomous being requires respect for personal privacy. To lose control of one's personal information is in some measure to lose control of one's life and one's dignity" (McFarland, internet). Based on this reasoning, it can be deduced that the government and large corporations do not revere ther human person, or have respect for personal privacy. It is evident that their desired end is to subject people to life in a security state, where they are powerless. This is a frightening reality, but can nonetheless be inferred from the NSA's admission of spying on Americans.
Doubtless, our rapidly-advancing technology has lessened the privacy we once enjoyed. It is a topic that has ethical and political overtones because, as individuals, we need privacy to function but, as a society, we need to be secure as well. Should we sacrifice one for the other? Because of the sanctity of privacy, we should not hand over our private lives to government officials. According to Miles (2014), " ' When we think we're being watched, we make behavior choices that we believe other people want us to makeIt's a natural desire to avoid societal condemnation. That's why every state loves surveillance -- it breeds a conformist population' " (Miles, internet).
It is important to weigh the pros and cons of taking away people's privacy, and subjecting them to surveillance. Clearly, technology has caused this to be a topic that is on nearly everyone's mind because we interface with some form of technology on a daily basis. While those in power advocate security over privacy -- and the autonomy of the individual -- this is not a cut-and-dried decision. Moreover, as our technology is rapidly becoming more and more advanced, we need to agree on what to do before our privacy becomes totally irretrievable -- before our everyone knows everything about everyone else, especially through the power of Big Data. It is a delicate subject, but it is one that the peopel should make for the leaders to follow, and not the other weay around. Clearly, a balance must be found.
Calamur, Krishnadev. (23 Oct, 2013). "5 Things to Know About the NSA's Surveillance
Activities." Parallels. npr.org.
Lohr, Steve. (23 Mar, 2013). "Big Data is Opening Doors, But Maybe Too Many." The New
Mason, Richard O. (1986). "Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age." gdrc.org.
McFarland, Michael. (2012). "Why We Care About Privacy." scu.edu.
Miles, Kathleen. (20 Jun, 2014). "Glenn Greenwald on Why Privacy is Important Even if You "Have
Nothing to Hide'." The World Post.