Over at Prairie Ecothrifter, a lively conversation is going on about the steadily increasing loss of privacy. Ecothrifter has written a great post on the subject, one of my favorite hobbyhorses.
The interesting thing is the number of people who actually don’t seem to be bothered by this! Every time one of these discussions arises, someone says something like “I don’t care much as long as I am not harmed.” Right. As though loss of your liberty to do as you please and to come and go as you please without somebody’s nose up your you-know-what is not harm? As though silently gathering information that not only can be used to pester you with more and more advertising but can actually be used against you in a court of law is not harm?
Apparently most Americans don’t value their privacy, and so all of us, including those who do, have lost our privacy.
My tinfoil hat isn’t shiny enough to lead me to wallpaper the rooms and ceiling with matching foil. However, I do take some steps to cling to a few shreds of privacy:
• Don’t carry your Social Security card around with you.
• Don’t hire on to jobs that require fingerprinting (these include everything from teacher to real estate sales agent).
• Refrain from entering information in social media—tell Facebook, Twitter, & Linked-In as little as possible about yourself, or actually dispense disinformation.
• And ask Facebook “friends” not to “tag” you in photos.
• Lie yourself stupid when people ask for information that’s none of their business! Give out fake phone numbers, fake addresses, and whenever possible, fake names. Safeway, for example, thinks it’s doing business with my deceased dog, whose telephone number is the same as Safeway’s corporate headquarters’.
• Wear broad-brimmed hats in public so it’s harder for camera snoops to capture an image of your face.
• If you still use checks, have a fake phone number printed on them.
• Don’t carry around cell phones and pads that can track your location, or if you must, turn off the geolocator function. If you can…
• Do business only with retailers that don’t demand personal information in exchange for a fair price.
• Don’t buy things off the Internet.
There’s a difference, IMHO, between what Crystal describes in her comment—willingly sharing information that’s culturally regarded as “private”—and surreptitious gathering of information, aggressively forcing information from you, or invading your private space (as in fingerprinting you when you’re the victim of a crime or as in X-raying your naked body through your clothes or as in listening in on your phone conversations and e-mail).
If you want to divulge things about yourself, fine. But what’s objectionable is the invasion of your privacy and the use of information gleaned by spying on you or by making you give it up against your will. Or aggregating that information without your knowledge. That is what we as individuals need to fight.
Image: Telescreens from the movie 1984. © Rosenblum Productions, Inc.