Your Private Life

BlogHer Original Post

Many of us conduct our lives and our business though our computers. If you want privacy, you may need to rethink that behavior. Choosing a cell phone over an email or online chat gives you no guarantee of privacy either. If fact, you may not find privacy anywhere. Let's start with divorce.

A recent article in The New York Times, Tell-All PCs and Phones Transforming Divorce, points out the technology that private citizens have available that can be used to pry into the lives of those around them. Cell phone records, email accounts, chat transcripts, actual keystrokes on a keyboard: all those things can be monitored by snoopy people close to you.

Spurned lovers steal each other’s BlackBerrys. Suspicious spouses hack into each other’s e-mail accounts. They load surveillance software onto the family PC, sometimes discovering shocking infidelities.

It isn't just the big companies who collect databases full of electronic surveillance on people now. It can be the other members of your family as well. Again, according to The New York Times,

Privacy advocates have grown increasingly worried that digital tools are giving governments and powerful corporations the ability to peek into peoples’ lives as never before. But the real snoops are often much closer to home.

“Google and Yahoo may know everything, but they don’t really care about you,” said Jacalyn F. Barnett, a Manhattan-based divorce lawyer. “No one cares more about the things you do than the person that used to be married to you.”

I hope you don't have an inquisitive ex snooping in on you. But even in the workplace, you are probably monitored by cameras and other electronic watchdogs. Perhaps you think if you leave behind the computer and the phone, you can step outside for a private chat with someone. But mapping service cameras, bank cameras, traffic cameras, in-store security cameras and other inconspicuous cameras may be recording your every move anywhere you go.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse keeps a chronology of data breaches. They state that

Over 165 million data records of U.S. residents have been exposed due to security breaches since January 2005.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse lists 19 current privacy issues of concern. They include online privacy, data profiling, identity theft, public records, medical records, and wiretapping.

A whole social media generation who have revealed all sorts of private information on Facebook or MySpace are also discovering the dangers of giving up your privacy. The current Miss New Jersey, Amy Polumbo, received blackmail threats after she was crowned Miss New Jersey. She was threatened with some photos from her private Facebook page. She countered by relasing the photos publicly herself.

And then there's the Patriot Act. Pam Pohly, writing for The EveryDay Citizen in an article titled Violation of American Privacy Laws takes the federal government to task for privacy invasions justified under the Patriot Act. She cites statistics from the National Security Letter (NSL) provisions of the Patriot Act, concluding,

It's really unbelievable. That's over 140,000 Americans who have had their private records and lives examined by the FBI - without a warrant, without court oversight, without due process, without representation of an attorney - and without even knowing about it.

Would a standard global approach to privacy be a step in the right direction? Google called for a global privacy policy recently, saying that policies are scattered and fragmented. Privacy rights would be better served by a global policy, Google argues.

BlogHers are among those who are highly interested in privacy issues, and will be watching what happens to Googles proposal over the next few weeks. Here are some related posts from BlogHer:
You Were Searched on Rapleaf/Upscoop
Content And Your Child's Right To Privacy--Part V In The Mom Blog Series
The End of Privacy
Privacy: Wiretaps, Cell Phones, Blogs, and Larry Craig
The Helicopter Circles Facebook and It Isn't Pretty
Privacy, Exposure, Risk

Although BlogHers are taking on this issue on the pages of BlogHer, I couldn't find many women bloggers who were consistently researching and commenting on privacy issues. Here's an available niche in the blogosphere that an interested worman could fill. It would be a valuable resource to create.

Recent Posts by Virginia DeBolt


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