Personal Privacy Analysis

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Imagine a society in which, at any given moment, there is a reasonable likelihood that you’re being watched. Because you can never be certain of whether you have privacy or not, you must always assume you’re being monitored. You must always be on edge and always cautious of the emotions you show, the opinions you express, and even the thoughts that run through your mind. This dystopian society presented in George Orwell’s 1984 (Orwell, 1949) are not so far from reality. At any given moment, much of our personal data including (but not limited to) phone calls, bank action, text messages, and social media presence (Avirgan, 2014) is being collected and stored by the NSA. Even as I type this paper, it’s more than likely my keystrokes are being …show more content…

We can determine this by analyzing consent, purpose, means, and necessity. First and foremost, we must look at whether one has granted permission to be watched. Author W. A. Parent defines privacy as involving “the control of undocumented information about oneself” (Parent, 1973 as cited in Macnish, n.d.). It can be concluded that if one gives their information freely and willingly, they are in control of their information and their privacy is not being violated. Consent is routinely given in many instances where it betters the subject’s life, such as search engine results being stored in history for later reference, loyalty cards tracking purchases at shops for rewards, and medical information being stored in case of sudden injury (Macnish, n.d.). This leads us to our next criterion, purpose. Just as the above, surveillance can be used to benefit both parties. It can have a potentially positive impact on one party, and a neutral impact on the other, such as surveillance as shown under consequentialism. Finally, it can have a positive or neutral effect on one party, and a harmful one on the other, as in the case of identity theft or stalking. Macnish explains: “This [personal gain] might be financial or emotional, but can extend to other reasons. An unethical computer hacker might break into a website to steal credit card numbers which she can then use for her own ends. Alternatively a Peeping Tom might steal up to someone’s window with voyeuristic intent, or an ex-spouse might seek to gain incriminating information in order to secure custody of their child” (Allen, 2008 as cited in Macnish, n.d.). Next, the methods used to observe can determine its ethicality. Intent, invasiveness, and target all determine the morality of said means. Generally, surveillance is most ethical when it is used specifically to prevent a crime, which the surveyor has

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