Privacy nowadays: beyond a personal setting in a social network
Technology and privacy have changed radically lately. Some years ago and mostly caused by centralist and bureaucratic sates, information was all kept together in databases (Agre and Rotenberg, 1997), where only administrative staff had access to it. This means that information was not spread like nowadays, since boundaries among countries do affect rather seldom to personal privacy, which now can be look it up wherever it is. Merging databases is much easier than before. This thorny controversy has been materialized in our University with the publication of some personal pictures of some students, visible at international level although they are a clear attempt against self-honour.
In today’s world we can get information without difficulties at the very same moment we are asking to do so, with more specific details and in a convenient way. This has lead us to a new public sphere (Agre and Rotenberg, 1997), in other words, a stage where the exchange of information requires new platforms to support the rapid changes. Therefore public action needs to be done in order to provide the right environment and do it in the best conditions. In other words, governments have to promote laws and rules in collaboration with private scheme to solve this problem.
The very first obstacle we have to tackle with is the different cultures among states (Agre and Rotenberg, 1997). The approach that different communities may offer to the same reality can undermine the decision-making moment. This challenge is reflected, for example, in the way privacy and self-honour is seen by diverse actors. Take the USA, where private ownership is an inalienable right which goes above all. Therefore individual rights in this country will be more crucial and the trend will be towards gaining this. However, another country where community features are more important than personal ones, will be less interested in promoting measures in this sense. Moreover in this current ‘social network’ society (Hill, 2012), where our daily life can be followed without obstacles, measures in this sense must be taken urgently. Private fears are nothing new in this case, in contrast with technologies, which they are indeed.
Nevertheless, efforts taken by governments for the sake of citizen’s can be taken advantage by many companies with rather groundless reasons. A law which allowed public administration to peep on personal e-mail more than 180 days in the former mentioned country is apparently going to be deleted because of doubtful results: it has been also a steal of information that has affected many victims. In the same source we can find also the controversy about the ‘cloud’. This tool is used by many people in order to store personal information. Encryptation in this area is not high-standard many times, and the key seems to be a proper data authentification system.
This ‘privacy invasion’ can end in undesirable circumstances such as being mistaken as a criminal. Governments can undertake measures against you in the name of good, hence new technologies deserve an easier access to our personal life and may go far away, beyond legal-borders to solve thorny situations which could be solved in a more ethic way. In a USA’s Supreme Court Decision in January 2012 (United States vs. Jones) demonstrates the steps they are taking to go against this approach though, when affirming this is a ‘loss of privacy, not property’.
The accessibility to information cannot work as an excuse to deep into people’s personal life. The apparently responsible for this issue like governments ought to defend individual’s rights according to the requirements within society, not answering business interests. All in all a new ethic is necessary to get the best result and to avoid ending in a schizophrenic society with ruling phantoms.
Hill, Kasmir, ‘The Technologies are New, the Privacy fears aren’t’ in Forbes, published 1-10-2012 (available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/01/10/the-technologies-are-new-the-privacy-fears-arent/– data accessed 10-12-2012).
Agre, Philip E. and Rotenberg, Marc, Technology and Privacy: the new Landscape, 1997, (available at: http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/landscape.html- data accessed 10-12-2012)
Mello Jr, John P, ‘Bill closing email privacy loophole clears commitee’ in TechNewsWorld, published 12-03-2012 (available at: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/76752.html– data accessed 10-12-2012).