What the Heck is Right to Privacy?

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd

THAT the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. – Harvard Law Review, 1890

I was listening to music on the web recently when I felt a sudden jolt  that someone could be snooping on me. Through some mass metadata collection effort, they were making a list of all the music I listen to in order to make a character sketch of me. It was a rather odd feeling that rose inside of me. Not that I was listening to anything out of this world. Being online, of course is exposing oneself.  On another thought, just think of how the mobile phone is like your personal address all wrapped up with information about who you are.

I think technology’s reach into our lives needs to be framed within the context of both its potential and what it is taking away, and not simply hailed as the harbinger of progress.

privacy

Against the background of NSA’s Edward J Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance programs last June, I don’t think I will ever go online without imagining that my right to privacy is being violated. However, most of the time, I just ignore it and do what I have to do. I’m a digital native after all.

In a New York Times article titled “Has Privacy Become a Luxury Good,” Julia Angwin argues that in our-data saturated economy, privacy is becoming a luxury good.

For large corporations which are perennially harvesting our data, we have become like eggs in a basket. The more they have, the better. It’s more like we are chips, right.

“Consider Google, which scans what you write in Gmail to offer advertisers a chance to promote their items based on your missives. Or a visit to an online news site where your data is secretly auctioned and sold before the page loads. Or Facebook, which allows marketers to turn your status updates into ads for their products,” she writes.

Most of us willingly gave up all that information. We are in a new world.

But the right to privacy remains a special value? A seminal article I found online <a href=”http://faculty.uml.edu/sgallagher/Brandeisprivacy.htm”>Right to Privacy</a> which spoke the message to me.

“THAT the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection,” read the paper .

The protection of the right to privacy is the basis of individual freedom. The right to one’s personality is indeed the very essence of what makes us human. Each generation of humankind needs to find a way to protect this essential right.

The right to privacy is under threat. There are new technologies which are facilitating a new way of access into our private lives without our knowledge. As we use these new technologies data about ourselves is also being harvested and we have no knowledge about how it’s being used. A new body of law will indeed be required to protect the privacy of the individual in the digital age.

“It is our purpose to consider whether the existing law affords a principle which can properly be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual and, if it does, what the nature and extent of such protection is,” reads the paper written in 1890.

I just don’t want to worry when I’m participating in the world’s greatest public sphere that I’m no free to play any type of music that I want.

I guess the right to privacy in the digital age is something that we have to keep thinking about but I dead guarantee where the right to privacy is protected the internet will continue to flourish.

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