March 23, 2019 read, explore

Why Do People Value Privacy?

Privacy. It’s pretty important to a lot of people. I think especially Americans are repulsed by the thought of being watched when they don’t want to be.

“the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.”

In this article, I’ll be talking more about the ‘being observed’ portion of the definition. I these last few years especially, the state of surveillance in the United States has been a hot topic of discussion for many people.

Think about it; would you want someone peeking over your privacy fence watching everything you do all day long? Even if you “do nothing wrong” while they’re watching, it’s still an inherently creepy act to watch someone in that way. And I think humans (at least most of us) are uneasy about being watched.

Using the privacy fence as an example might help some people realize how twisted and corrupt our government has become. Instead of only targeting a terrorist’s backyard, they look over everyone’s fence. To me, this tactic is deeply disturbing and morally wrong. Instead of indiscriminately collecting data on everyone, the government should only target suspected terrorists and their affiliates.

It’s worth noting that President Obama was not the one who authorized the implementation of these overreaching surveillance policies. The guy to blame is George W. Bush who made sure illegal laws like the Patriot Act were implemented.

I think that deep in the human psyche there is this a subconscious or conscious dislike of being watched without your consent. Everyone hates taking the driving test because there’s a person next to them watching everything you do. There’s something that we, in general, don’t like about those kinds of situations.

In regards to electronic surveillance, a lot of people say “I don’t care, I have nothing to hide.” That’s great! Me either. To me privacy is not about having something to hide. To the founding fathers, privacy was a self-evident truth. According to the Fourth Amendment, to conduct a search or seizure, law enforcement first needs probable cause and then must receive a warrant from a judge.

“Freedom from surveillance, whether public or private, is foundational to the capacity for critical self-reflection and informed citizenship. A society that permits the unchecked ascendancy of surveillance infrastructures cannot hope to remain a liberal democracy.”

Now, the government uses a (not so) secret court to grant them warrants that name the suspect with titles like “Verizon Wireless” or “AT&T” so that they can surveil everyone. That’s not a constitutional way to go about spying on Americans. You need individual warrants for suspected criminals. You can’t cast a net that wide, it’s not right, and it’s not what the founding fathers intended.

photo credit: RemijanPhoto

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