Encroachment On Our Most Fundamental Right

Our right to privacy has been a growing concern as technological advances facilitate its encroachment. Every push on the outward bound of technological limitations carries a slew of negative externalities that are imposed upon citizens of the world.

In the past, such movements in technology’s outwards bound were gradual, allowing for timely regulation and policy changes in pace with technology’s development. Unfortunately, technology’s recent growth has been so rapid that legislation cannot keep pace.

Such a lack of synchronization between technology and legislation has the potential to be catastrophic.

Indeed, the effects of this imbalance are already manifesting themselves. From Lulu, an app that allows girls to rate guys based on past sexual experiences to Google Glass, which can allow users to stalk people in real time, we are witnessing a slew of privacy violations that regulatory policy has failed to appropriately deal with. One could posit that effective regulation is impossible. There may simply exist too many tools for capturing information and photos, and too many channels of distribution to block unlawful dissemination.

A plausible response could be intensive tracking of said dissemination and imposing harsh penalties and criminal charges against violators. In such an attempt, however, there lies a paradox. Oversight of such dissemination is in and of itself a violation of privacy.

With modern technologies requiring us to give up more and more of our privacy we face a choice. Either we protect our privacy at all costs and suffer from the lack of utility that technology provides, or embrace the positive externalities that accompany said technologies in exchange for our privacy. Unfortunately we cannot have both.

Such a decision when based upon cost-benefit analysis can be tricky particularly since the immediate rewards of technology are great while the long-term negative consequences are hard to perceive.

We all love the ability to harness information with such ease and to remain connected in real time with dozens of people we care about. Not as many of us enjoy the ability of our government to watch what we say, and track our location, nor do we have a serous penchant for corporations to use data-mining techniques to practice price discrimination.

Even if we had the foresight to weigh these short-term gains with long-term losses, we are hopelessly unaware of how much privacy we sacrifice when we use certain technologies. For this reason it is crucial that governments and consumer advocacy groups step in to protect us. If not we will lose more than our privacy; we may lose our security as well.

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4 Responses to Encroachment On Our Most Fundamental Right

  1. Pingback: Law and Tech: The Tortoise and the Hare | Dashwood

  2. Sara's Space says:

    Thank you for this post. I think you raise a very valid point that I feel not enough people are paying attention to, especially since our generation never really grew up with a concern for privacy as we constantly feed off of posting our every move on social media and the like. In one of my classes a few months ago my professor showed as a website in which men could “rate” their ex-girlfriends. On this website, they could also post pictures of them, post their home/work addresses, and even their cell phone numbers. As a result, women were being stalked by random men on the internet and would get harassing phone calls/text messages. This was especially a huge issue in the state of California, and even though California outlawed this website and uploading personal information of the women onto it, it was so hard to actually enforce these policies that the law was futile. I think policymakers need to come up with a new way to actually enforce these laws or we’re making a mockery out of our justice system in proving that we can’t enforce what goes on in cyberspace.

  3. jordangary says:

    The point you bring up is very valid; we can’t have privacy and take full advantage of our ever-growing world of technology at the same time. It always reminds me of every time my mother ever said “be careful what you put on the internet, because it never goes away”. Ultimately, I believe it is impossible for any laws or regulations to completely protect our privacy with all of the technology at our hands. Though a lot of people probably don’t and won’t like it, I think it is up to us to protect our own privacy and realize that anything we put in a public domain is up for grabs. The mere existence of cookies make it possible for advertisers to mine our information, and that is not something they’re going to give up any time soon. I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing either. I personally like advertising that is more catered to my interests. It prevents me from wasting time and seeing ads that are completely irrelevant to me.
    As a small caveat, I’m not trying to say that governmental spying is okay in any way. I do think there need to be laws and regulations put in place blocking that.

  4. aaronmbr says:

    I think this is a very interesting topic that you chose to write about. I also wrote an article commenting on the evasiveness of current social media websites that are constantly asking for more and more personal information about you to share with millions of people that you do no know. I think that because of the speed that technology is developing, something needs to be done in order to provide users with ample security and safety for online predators. However, by no means do I believe that the government should take an active or aggressive role in trying to regulate the Internet. What makes the Internet so great, is the fact that you can do, find anything you want with the click of a button, and if that is taken away, then one might as well take away the Internet as well. Although I have no specific solution as to how to ensure user privacy, I do believe that something must be done, but not to the point where I’ll have government agents knocking on my door because of something I posted of Facebook. On Encroachment On Our Most Fundamental Right.

    -Think Free, Break the Chains.

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