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Those of us who have read Orwell's 1984 have a pretty solid understanding of life without privacy. In that novel, technology had so encroached on individual lives, that there was literally no physical place to which one could go and expect not to be surveilled. To many, we are fast approaching an Orwellian type of existence, because there is no body of law that protects this basic human right against ever-encroaching technology.Toward a Definition
Every person has a "domain" in which he has the right to privacy. This domain includes our dwellings, our bodies, our possessions, our beliefs, and our secrets. We should have the right to share or not share those things at our own choosing. Today, there are four categories of privacy with which we must be concerned:
1. Territorial: We should have the right to privacy in our homes and at our workplaces. While no one can enter our homes without warrants, what we do in our homes on our computers is certainly subject to surveillance. In the workplace, smart ID badges track our movements throughout the day; bosses can monitor our computer use and our physical activities. We can no longer expect privacy at the workplace.
2. Communications: When our mail, phone, and emails can be monitored and archived, we can no longer expect our communication to be private.
3. Information: The ability of the government and private companies to compile our personal and financial information is a fact of life. Protection of this information is left up to individual companies and organization with which we do business online and is certainly open to breaches at any given time.
4. Bodily: We should have protections against invasive procedures, but we, in fat, do not. Mandatory drug testing, bodily cavity searches and mandated vaginal sonograms are just a few examples of invasions of our bodily privacy .Not an Absolute Right
None of our rights is absolute. Freedom of speech, for example, does now allow us to publicly lie about another person; we cannot scream "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire. And we do give up our right to privacy in certain circumstances.
1. We freely share private information through social media all the time
2. If we are convicted of a crime an imprisoned, we give up most all of our privacy, except our thoughts.
3. We give up privacy when a warrant provides for a search of our person or property.
And yet, beyond these circumstances, there are significant threats to our privacy which we must address.The Threats
All threats to privacy are primarily technologically-based. Since the revelation in 2013 that the U.S. government was capturing and monitoring private telephone calls, through "agreements" with private phone carriers, the entire issue of privacy has become a hot one indeed. The entire area of digitally surveilling private citizens in all of their "domains" is now a significant threat. In addition to wire-tapping without warrants, the following activities directly affect our privacy.
1. Illegal and/or questionable monitoring of political opponents, groups which may be at odds with departments of the government, journalists, and other prominent figures is a proven activity.
2. Video surveillance is constantly monitoring public places, roads, parking lots, etc. to date, these cameras have been used to prevent and solve crimes, although there have been numerous court cases at the local level regarding red-light cameras to surveil individuals and then send them tickets in the mail.
3. Workplace Surveillance: Monitoring employees throughout their days either tracking their Internet use or via video surveillance make for an untrusting atmosphere at work and low morale.
4. Threats to personal and financial information via hacking and lack of proper security on websites.