Why Privacy Matters

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The word privacy is thrown around so much it’s kind of hard to understand what it truly means. As a high school student, one hears a lot of stories with the word privacy in them. A girl tells her best friend a secret and the next day the whole school knows about it. Then everyone hears the girl complain about how much of an invasion of privacy that the whole situation is. Many people would agree with this. These people would probably say that what one wants to stay private, should do so. These people aren’t exactly wrong but they aren’t really right either. Most people think that privacy is what people know about another person, regardless of how they get the information but it’s actually all about what the individual decides what everyone else knows.

Once one puts information out there, that person can no longer trust that the information will not be spread. In a recent TED talk called “Why Privacy Matters”, Alessandra Acquisti mentioned a study he did all about social media websites. In the past years, these kind of websites have become very popular. Anyone can easily find old friends or new love interests and what they like, where they go and so many other things about them. But, according to Professor Acquisti’s study, people should start to think twice about the information they put on these websites. He talks about how through information people put on these websites, hackers and other companies can get a lot of information about them which can be scary because most people can never know what they can do with that. However, in a way, one allows that information to be out there because they put it out there. It’s all about responsibility. Every person liable to what they say to others and what they put on the internet.

Last year, a man named Edward Snowden found that “...even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded”. After this happened the concept of “privacy” was talked about a lot. The American people were up in arms about the fact that simple things like our call records are being seen by the government, and the government was upset that the information they wanted to keep private was leaked. The problem is that both of these parties are in the wrong. Honestly, it’s not really a big secret that someone besides the user can see what they’re doing on their phone.

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With all of the knowledge we now have about what the government can and cannot see, when a person buys a phone, especially a smartphone, they are basically consenting that whatever goes on there is no longer just their information. After 9/11, when the Patriot Act was passed, a lot of things became less and less private. Then, as technology progressed, the world became too reliant on smart phones to keep their lives together. The average smartphone has almost all of our information on it. Our address’, phone numbers, passwords and so many other things. It’s almost ignorant to think that what we decide to put on this little device will be kept to ourselves. Now, I’m not saying that if one keeps a personal diary on some app in their phone that the whole world should be able to see it, but the world of technology is not a private one, contrary to what some people believe, it’s public. What someone sends in emails or post on facebook are in a public place and are no longer private thoughts.


On the other hand, the United States government was upset about this situation too, but it’s hard to understand why. Every person has the should always know what is and is not private about their lives. Call records going to the government isn’t the invasion of privacy, it’s the fact that the people didn’t know that their call records were going anywhere. That’s what a true invasion of privacy is. Privacy is people having the right to decide where their information is going. That way, when someone buys that shiny new iPhone, they agree to an unspoken contract that they consent to where their information is going. I think that it would make quite a few people think twice about what they put onto their smart phones. It’s like if someone gives another a gift, they can do with that what they may but it’s completely different if they break into the other person’s house and steal that same item. they have no knowledge that the other person has the item, they didn’t tell the other person that they had it, and it’s wrong for them to do something with it because the other person is not consenting to it.

Recently the issue of privacy has become a very important one. Many people, and the law, say that once you’re in public, what you do is no longer private. Meaning that if you have a conversation in a restaurant and someone overhears it and tells more people, it’s not an evasion of your privacy. therefore, when you’re in public, you have to be more careful about what information gets put into the world. Just awhile back, it came to light that the U.S. military was planning on launching what Craig Timberg from the Washington Post called “blimp-like surveillance craft[s]... over Maryland”. The citizens of Maryland are afraid that these crafts will be able to see into their houses, which would be a huge invasion of privacy. However, the military says “‘The primary mission . . . is to track airborne objects,’ ...’Its secondary mission is to track surface moving objects such as vehicles or boats. The capability to track surface objects does not extend to individual people.’” but the thought that the technology is there can be very scary. THat’s where the line is drawn in this definition of privacy. It’s an invasion of privacy when you are being watched in your own home. When a person is in their own home they are not consenting to anyone knowing anything that they do or say. That is where the line of privacy is drawn. When someone is in their own home it is their sanctuary. The very thought of their words or actions getting out of this sanctuary and being known by the government is very Orwellian.

Another story that has recently been on the minds of many teenagers and young adults is the snapchat hackers. A recent security breach has made it that much easier for hackers to obtain phone number and other personal information from the very popular app. A local new reporter in Kansas named Chris Arnold said “The initial security breach that took place affected close to 5 million people and the company tried to instill a new security feature but within 30 minutes, the app was hacked again.” Since then lists full of names and phone numbers of snapchat users have surfaced on the internet and has frightened many cell phone users. the question has arisen, if this can happen to one of the biggest cell phone apps in the world, what really is safe? The worst thing about it is that this information isn’t even public to someone’s friends on the app. It isn’t even possible for the users to consent for this information to be shared with anyone. It has not only the users but parents scared about what might happen. With all of the technology that’s out there today, anyone with a little hacking knowledge can find out so much about a person with just their name and phone number and it’s hard to tell what’s really safe anymore. In situations like this it’s even worse because it’s random people taking information that you didn’t want to let go of and doing what they want with it like selling it to private companies.

Basically, privacy is the information about a person that they choose to tell the world. If someone puts their information on the internet it’s the same as yelling it from the rooftops. We have to be careful about what we decide we put out there. There is a line drawn about what’s private and what is not but it’s not exactly what the general majority seem to think it is. The line is in someone’s home and in their mind. Once anyone is out in public or they knowingly put information into the world it is no longer just theirs.



Works Cited

Acquisti, Alessandro. "Alessandro Acquisti: Why Privacy Matters." TED: Ideas worth Spreading. TEDGlobal, Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Arnold, Chris. "Snapchat Security Breach Leads to Concern | KSN TV." KSN TV. KSN TV, 25 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Keane, Tom. "Opinion." BostonGlobe.com.Globe Columnist, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Rodriguez, Gabriel. "Edward Snowden Interview Transcript FULL TEXT: Read the Guardian's Entire Interview With the Man Who Leaked PRISM." PolicyMic. The Guardian, 9 June 2013. Web. 05 Feb. 2014.
Timberg, Craig. "Blimplike Surveillance Craft Set to Deploy over Maryland Heighten Privacy Concerns." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Wolf, Richard. "High Court to Examine Cellphone Privacy." USA Today. Gannett, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.



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