Privacy is a right as defined by the Fourth Amendment; “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
I give this as an opening example because online, this does not exist. What we share willingly online, excludes us from any privacy rights violations. If we fail to read the “terms and conditions”, or the arbitration clause for the media site we are using, we fail to enact our own privacy rights. When we share information in public, that information is no longer private.
In the documentary “The Great Hack”, highlights the Cambridge Analytica scandal that erupted in the 2016 election cycle. They noted voting irregularities and utilized data harvested through Facebook in order to reach voters in certain demographics across America. They targeted their emotions, to change their decision. Brittany Kaiser, the whistleblower in the documentary stated something that stuck out to me. “The reason why Google and Facebook are the most powerful companies in the world is because last year data surpassed oil in value.” Our data is valuable, which makes us a commodity. We allow tech giants to obtain our information, by freely giving it to them without regulations. Forbes points out, “In our era of omnipresent smartphone cameras and live-streaming, there is little left that is off limits to sharing with the world.” (Leetaru, 2019)
The documentary and article point to the potential need for an internet “Constitution”. One with globally agreed upon “Amendments”, that limit the ability of corporations to sell and harvest our data. If data is valuable then our rights to that data is more important than ever. The internet is seemingly unregulated and rights to privacy are limited by individual understanding. We have to understand how the internet works, in order for the internet to work for us. The opening of the Forbes article points out “the death of privacy in the digital era,” which indicates that people are unaware of how most things work online. We have to maintain our own anonymity when it comes to online use. There is no privacy on the internet, when we try to hide in plain sight, for everyone to see. That translates to a need to teach younger generations the fundamental basics of online coding. When you understand even the smallest portion of how coding works, you start to refrain from disclosing certain things online.
Privacy has changed drastically over the span of the last 20 years. The dawn of the techno generation is here. Algorithms now dictate what is important to us, what we are searching for online is not always what we find. There are going to be many issues in the future, as far as privacy and online communications is concerned. We have to disseminate the information we view as credible before we view it. Who is putting the information out? Is the source credible? Is the site secure? Does the URL seem logical? Are basic questions I ask myself when I view any information found on digital media sources. This information is very easily manipulated and can change within a blink of an eye.
The notion of privacy online will always be vague and misconstrued. It will be left up to the individual to determine what they believe to be true. There are too many Nations with differing regulations to create a successful internet Constitution. Where one’s freedoms begin, another’s rights end. At least this is true for Citizens of the United States. We have a Constitution that does not prevent other Nations from manipulating our information through online communications. The ongoing notion of privacy online will fall on deaf ears to those who see the online world for what it really is. A mass amount of overwhelming information to disseminate through. The only way to truly bring back “privacy” rights online, would be to enact regulations that would silence people and their voice. Freedom of speech is essential in a free and open society. Regulating what people say entirely should not be the first option. Plus, who from other Nations are going to follow what we dictate is appropriate online? The world has 7.6 Billion People with well over 2 Billion people having online access. This would require more education of individuals on the ramifications of disclosure online, versus regulating what people say online. Many things are satire, which might have a portion of truth. A partial truth is still a partial lie, a partial lie might also have a portion of truth.