Privacy – What Does It Mean Today?

New technologies always challenge the establishment, be it of societal norms or law. With email, cell phones, social media, online sharing and generally wanting to stay connected, society struggles with use and governance.

How do we balance freedom to share “good” with the ease of access to observe, track and target those wishing to do harm?  What is the limit of privacy we can or should expect on our digital footprints?

We would love to hear your thoughts on the the latest privacy headlines, from the NSA Prism revelation to Google Glasses.

We hope you enjoy today’s selection of articles addressing privacy, freedom and how we as a society will choose to engage with each other and with our elected officials.

Privacy and democracy

To listen to Barack Obama or Dick Cheney, one would think that privacy is a reward that democracy only delivers reliably in fair weather, and that it is something most vigorously claimed as a right by those who don’t face the challenge of defending “freedom.”

These rugged statesmen, whose perspective — unlike that of the average citizen — is shaped by a much more expansive and intimate view of the ever-present threats to America, recognize that — as Obama put it recently — we can’t have 100 percent security and also 100 percent privacy. With respect to our private communications, it’s better to be read than dead.

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Does Privacy Really Matter Anyway?

As recent polls suggest, a majority of Americans are not alarmed by the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting all of our electronic communications, from phone conversations to email messages and internet searches.  “After all, if I haven’t done anything wrong, then why should I even care if they read my email? Isn’t this just the price we must pay to keep us safe and sound against those who may be plotting a terrorist attack?”

Sound about right? The logic here is, indeed, very practical.  But is it prudent?  Let me approach the latter question indirectly through an analogy with our justice system.

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NSA Prism program a game changer on web privacy, says Sir Martin Sorrell

The founder of the world’s biggest marketing services company, Sir Martin Sorrell, has said he believes revelations about the National Security Agency’s Prism internet surveillance program are a “game changer” that will spark a fundamental rethink of web privacy by web users.

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Mike Mokrzycki: Polling About Privacy: Lessons From the Past

An exhaustive 2008 academic study of polling in the years after 9/11 can help make sense of what might be seen as confused public opinion today on privacy and government surveillance. It also suggests concerns about surveillance may be underreported as some people particularly sensitive about privacy might not take surveys.

Pollsters jumped into action after bombshell disclosures early this month about vast National Security Agency collection of telephone and Internet records. Polling observers quickly noted widely varying results, some indicating Americans were sanguine about the surveillance and others signaling greater alarm.

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One comment so far.

  1. avatar Linda says:

    We have risen to the heights in being a hypocritical world. From the obscure to the famous. I am not a fan of Paula Deen and not because of who she is, I just am not the food loving type who dreams of cooking and kitchen life. I could throw Racheal Ray and the food network into that same pot as well. Though I do find it ludicrous as a population in this world, we would find it fitting to destroy a person over a statement made 30 years ago, or are we really capeable of even doing so?

    Somewhere in Paula this time was needed. Only she has those answers. What I would say to her? Stop wailing and figure out how you are going to recreate yourself. Unless you have other shadows ready to pop out – find the opportunity at this time to do what you really are aching to do! If you are tired, take a rest and regroup – one day you will find a smile and look back at today and thank this hypocritical world in taking you to the place you dreamed of and lacked the time to explore.

    Anyone who feels they can stand against her or others who have been destroyed for being inapropriate at times over 30 years and feel themselves as being rightous in doing so – 10 hail mary’s to you, you just might need to bank them for the future.