The question we have to answer this week is about personal privacy being a new U. S. cultural value. To begin with, I think when you choose to go online, you are going to lose any amount of privacy you think you have. The internet is a wide open forum that people from all over the world have access to, and the line between the public and the private has become increasingly indistinct. Americans have rushed to take advantage of the explosion of the Internet, but few have stopped to consider the relatively murky legal protections afforded to online activity.
Privacy protections against government searches are provided by state and federal laws, and by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which provides that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. ” Courts have slowly developed different frameworks as they grapple with how to apply the original intentions of the Fourth Amendment to new social circumstances. Federal courts, due to the slow pace of the U. S. legal system, within recent years have begun to hold that e-mail content is protected by the same tandards as telephone calls. Google and Facebook are counting that the more tech savvy and younger customers will not be troubled by sharing their privacy information.
To me, this is scary. Plus they will have more personal material stored online. These people may think that documents stored in a desk drawer and documents hosted on a remote, password-protected server have the same level of privacy, current case law can view these scenarios very differently. A good example is the uproar from younger employees who have an issue when employers fire them because of statements made about the company on Facebook.
They think that they are protected from their statements that could hurt the reputation of the company. I personally do not divulge a lot of information online. I do not online bank or pay bills, but I am sure enough of my information is out there and can be seen by anyone who wants it. I do not have a problem with this, at this time. I also do not care that I get tracked on what sites I visit. If I get sent ads, they just get deleted. I do get worried about new e-mails saying they are from a family member, but that are sent from junk senders. I wonder how and where they are getting that piece of information.
I do worry that information concerning my business could get compromised, but I try to be sure that when I have to do business transactions that I choose secure sites. I also think that people need to pull back on what they say and post on public forums, because there will come a time when it can backfire on them and there is no taking it back once it is posted. It just bothers me that I am the one that has to be so diligent about safety when I try to do everything right. I hope that the time comes soon when everyone will take a step back and reevaluate what they are putting out there, and I hope it happens before damage is done.