Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Internet Privacy! (Or the lack thereof...)

I’m back, and I’ve got a new post for all of my adoring fans! (most likely my Mom and possibly my little sister.)  I realized that hey, life’s too short to agonize over writing great blog posts.  Maybe my blogs will be grammatically wild, filled with a glut of syntactic faults and void of literary merit.  You know what I say to that?
Pppppphhhht!  Yeah, that’s right.  Lickitongue cares not for your haughty English ideals!

Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to business.  (To defeat!  The Huns…)

No!  I’m going to stay focused.  Well, here’s the story anyway.  I was walking around in my uniform as a security officer at the Harold B. Lee Library when I ran into an employee who started to talk to me about an article that he was reading on the web.

He said, “Do you have a smartphone?”

I replied.  “Yes.”

He said, “Do you have a flashlight app on that smartphone?”

I replied, with some trepidation, “No.”  

He relaxed a bit, and said, “Oh.”

I waited for him to continue.

“Well, I’ve been reading about how they are using these apps to spy on us, through our telephones.  Isn’t that something?  Using the devices that we buy to spy on us.”

I smiled a bit and turned around, commenting as I left, “That’s the price we pay, I guess.”
I got to thinking about this, though, since the issue of internet privacy has been tossed around a lot in the past few months.  And here’s what I thought.

First of all, I do believe that we have to pay a price to have access to the knowledge that we have.  Nothing is free in this life, though many of us are led to believe the opposite.  Knowledge gained without any sacrifice is usually knowledge not worth having in the first place.  We have access to a great deal of knowledge through use of the internet and other digital means.  But, generally, to access this information, we have to be connected to the network(s) that provide it.  And that connection can lead to a loss of privacy.

Now, I realize that there are many important pieces of data that we keep on the internet, such as our banking, business, and professional information that we obviously want to keep private.  I’m not going to address that right now, since that’s a whole ‘nother scope of this issue.  I’m just going to talk about the morality of internet relations.  

We can’t have the “best of both worlds” (Sorry, I know that the trope is horribly overused).  I could isolate myself and thus avoid the negative influence of everyone and everything that could possibly affect me, but the second I allow another person into my existence, I run the risk of losing my privacy.  And the risk is multiplied exponentially when I allow (potentially) millions of people to have access to information about myself.  

This in no way justifies the immoral actions of others when they invade my privacy.  In a rapidly expanding technological world, to function in society it is practically a necessity to be connected to the internet.  And I think that it will only become even more necessary.  I can’t imagine our world heading a direction in which the internet will become obsolete, unless it were replaced by some other form of international and intercultural connection that is even more accessible and useful.  

With that somewhat bleak image in mind, it can be frightening to consider the kind of people you can run into on the internet.  Believe me, I’ve been to 4chan.  The mask of anonymity spawns vileness and immorality like a plague, and there is little that any one individual or government can do to stop that.  And I don’t think that is the answer, nor can it possibly be the answer.  

What if my phone got hacked, right this instant?  What would I fear?  Would I be afraid that the cruel messages I write about people I know get posted on the internet?  Would I be afraid that others could see inappropriate pictures that I view?  Would I be afraid of the shame and social stigma that this would cause?  

No, because I simply don’t do things like that.  

The issue is not whether the world will know about the bad things that I do or not, it’s whether I do them or not.  Morally, I could broadcast any horrible thing that I do over the internet or be the only one on earth that knows about it, but in the end, it doesn't matter.  It’s still horrible.  So I shouldn’t do it.  That’s my personal moral code and my decision.  

So, in conclusion, we need to realize that there are bad people on the internet.  And often, they will not care about your privacy.  And although that is lamentable, it is a fact.  So, if you really want to avoid losing control of something embarrassing that you’ve done, just don’t do it in the first place.  Or if it’s already done, don’t post a video of it on Youtube.  

Okay, that was a long rant.  Sorry folks, sometimes things like this happen.  Feel free to comment, at least, if you can.  I’d love to know what you think.  

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