There have been a ton of discussions regarding privacy recently in light of Snowden NSA revelations. Many discussions revolve around encryption, using services outside the US and generally how to make it difficult for a snooper to read information passed around the internet. I’m definitely in favor of tools the enable keeping information private.
At the same time, wouldn’t it be better if our understanding of the internet and technology changed such that the users could be considered the owners? It seems as though tools like copyright, professional privilege and unlawful search and seizure should extend to our life online. Privacy as an ideal should not be limited by the current technology of the day. Privacy is a concept that should permeate our laws, no matter the current state of technology.
As an aside, I’d wonder if the RIAA should consider suing the NSA for copyright infringement. Imagine the number of songs and copyrighted works that flow through email the NSA might have “copied” digitally. Anyway...
I’m sure the government is never going to offer its constituency true privacy. To put it generally, it makes life harder for law enforcement. If you can’t see what people are doing, then how can you punish (and most importantly tax) them. I have a hunch that there are still plenty required mediums that make auditing and discovering wrong doing possible. A warrant is a piece of paper that describes an exception to privacy. That seems like a pretty reasonable way to go about finding evidence. After all, we are innocent until proven guilty.
On the other side of the coin, I believe society could greatly benefit from a society of privacy. That little black box the insurance companies want to put in your car would be more appealing if you owned the data it recorded and could feel safe the government can’t simply ask the insurance companies for the data without proper cause. Smart phones could be tracking your every move for your own usage, not the governments. Technology can create new ways of recording and using data without having to be concerned that user’s privacy could be compromised. There is a world of automation that is available when you don’t have to worry about the data becoming public knowledge.
I don imagine any of this will happen. Most likely our government will continue to make hidden strides into destroying privacy in order to maintain power. Technology will try to curb this threat to privacy and users will become increasingly accepting of big brother watching everything we do. I only hope that some in our government will realize the danger of stealing privacy and make a stand to keep it safe both now and in the future.