The Privacy Issue

Indiana Nash, Editor-in-chief

Each day, our generation is bombarded with opportunities. We constantly have the opportunity to share and document our every thought, every place we visit, every friend we’re with, every change in emotion and every vapidly formed political opinion (or thoroughly formed one), etc. With apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine; along with social media giants Twitter and Facebook, it’s all too easy to report to the world everything about us in a format that we feel is private and personalized.

Privacy is something that has concerned the American public for as long as our country has existed, however, I’m not entirely sure that the ethical battle has ever been as relevant as it is today. On a political level, citizens want to have the freedom to make a simple phone call and not have a government entity like the FBI listening in. On the other hand, the government wants to do all that it can to keep the country safe and feels that it can best do that if some privacy rights are compromised. Since most American citizens tend to value both a safe environment as well as privacy, it seems that there is a bit of an impasse between the two ideals.

Since the Edward Snowden incident last year, there has been an increased focus on how exactly our government uses the information it “collects” from not only America, but other countries around the world. Many international political leaders were angered by the discovery that the American government has been watching them and “getting through.” What Snowden did was no doubt treasonous, but he did bring to light many issues that most Americans weren’t aware of.

Closer to home, over our winter break, one of America’s favorite apps was “hacked.” The Snapchat database (which stores every Snapchat that has ever been sent) was broken into and the information of thousands of users was compromised. It’s difficult to realize or have a constant understanding that things like texting, messaging, snapchatting, vining, etc. aren’t private at all. We’re not having a simple conversation between ourselves and the receiver; things are much more complicated than that. The information passes through databases in places we’ve never (and probably will never) see at rates we can’t understand and in ways we can’t control. The number of channels our information goes through is far greater than we expect.

Though it’s not something we’re consciously thinking about, it’s an issue we face every day we log in to our favorite social media site or give our credit card number to that great online shoe store. It’s time to take a look at how everything is connected and where all of our information goes, because if you’re not looking or caring, then who will?

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