The Ponder Effect | Is privacy a right?
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Is privacy a right?

Facebook is in it deep. After a decade of dominating the tech world, they are finally having their reckoning. Why? Because in their quest to “move fast and break things,” they broke a promise that maybe they never made in the first place: we won’t take advantage of you by knowing everything about you.

They say nothing’s free, and so it isn’t. “Free” tech platforms monetize data. That data is then churned through a Willy Wonka-style innovation machine until it generates a sugarcoated world catered specifically to us. We don’t see the danger for the deliciousness. We don’t realize that what reaches us has been cherry-picked to seduce us. Should this be illegal? Should a company or a government have the power to access “private” information for any reason? If so, what are the reasons? Where is the line?

When I was a little girl, I kept a journal that had a lock on it. I wrote the names of all the boys I had crushes on and I wrote all my deep-seated feelings, and then I turned the key and stuck the diary under my mattress. I believed my secrets were safe. They weren’t. My brother read that journal every night and then used what he knew to hold me hostage. He wasn’t too cruel about it, but I felt mortified and betrayed. And yet, I was pretty stupid to think that a flimsy lock would protect me and that my mattress was a good hiding place. Who is to blame? And who does the blaming?

We come back to the question of whether privacy is a right. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it is. The US Constitution sort of says it is but not outright. The question is timeless but the terrain is so new. What do you think, and what are the implications?


*Note: Ponder Effect is a platform that prioritizes privacy admittedly to the detriment of our own growth. All posts are anonymous. We ask for no personal information whatsoever from those who ponder with us. Should you choose, you can receive the weekly question emailed to you on Sunday evening. That’s it. We operate in this way not because we value privacy as a right per se but because we value sharing over data and communal reflection over commercial gain.

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Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    April 17, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Privacy, like freedom, is not free. If we as individuals want to maintain privacy, then we have to work at it and opt to pay for things as opposed to “freemium” models of business that proliferate out of Silicon Valley. In today’s connected world, i operate under the assumption that everything that I do online is recorded and can be tracked if need be. Perhaps the total lack of privacy online will make people stop treating the internet as an opportunity to be an anonymous bully, voyeur, or troll. Perhaps a lack of privacy online could have the positive effect of re-instilling some basic decency into online discourse. Unlikely, but optimism takes work too.