Such a concept is difficult to define. It is intangible; only revealing itself when one fails to respect it or maintain it; however, it is revered as one of if not the most important aspects of humanity. In order to protect our supposed physical privacy we erect walls, hang drapes, lock doors, and most importantly, we wear clothing. In order to protect our information, we continuously update our passwords…. with a special symbol, a number, and characters not found on most functioning keyboards if necessary; we shred documents containing valuable or personal information. We whisper, talk behind closed doors, and even send cryptic messages in attempts to veil the content of our communication. Our personal information is our identity, and we even go so far as to hire companies to restore that identity should our privacy become breached.
One might say that given all the attention that it receives, privacy is the most valuable of all assets. But does privacy really even exist?
In wake of the Wikileaks earlier this year, privacy of information has come under extreme scrutiny with transparency transplanting it as the preeminent buzz word around corporate and governmental proceedings. And although the dangers of disclosing protected information are very real, the entire scandal has left corporate executives and bureaucrats painfully aware that their actions both public and private have the potential to fall under the lens of the public eye, thus hopefully begetting more ethical behavior out of both public and private sector leaders.
So, it should be assumed that when in a position of public trust, in many facets, privacy cannot exist because there is too much pressure to be transparent. But what about in spheres away from the public spotlight? Can privacy withstand the onslaught of the snooping neighbor hoping to score fresh gossip material, the machiavellian coworker inclined to betray a secret in order to augment his/her status within the company, or a malicious stranger who will hijack your identity to milk you dry before moving on to the next helpless victim?
Personal privacy is dependent upon mutual trust. Trust that your neighbor will respect your boundaries. Trust that disclosing information to your colleagues is done so in good faith and as such what is shared will not be reveled. Trust that the safeguards used to protect your precious identity will succeed in doing so. Without that trust, the only privacy that can exist is the privacy that exists within our own minds, but even with that, thanks to the unscrupulous way society as a whole wields technology, we have all but waived our right to that.
Ignored. Privacy is most frequently ignored not by those looking to breach its walls but by those capable of erecting them. We are the guilty ones, but what’s worse is that we are doing it willingly however without conscious awareness. We live in a society with an insatiable desire to share. Everywhere we go we are prompted to share, tweet, like, check-in, or contribute. In such a world, privacy is an illusion. Every step is tracked; every event, the monumental and minutia, chronicled.
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