What Does Privacy Mean Today?

Everyone is entitled to a private life, but there’s no guarantee that your entire life is private. In today’s world, between signing up for different social networks, shopping online, applying for a credit card, and so much more, we are providing personal information about ourselves. Once that information is out there, it becomes difficult to keep track of it (check out this related article).

We think nothing of it when a website asks us to provide our name and email address, but doing so can allow others to find more information about us. For example, the website Spokeo collects and then sells your personal information. Most of you are probably thinking to yourselves how do they know all that information about me? Well, you’re the one that provided it to them; you just didn’t know you were doing so at the time. Yes, they may do some digging in order to obtain all that information on you, but they are able to find your personal information because you had previously entered it somewhere online.

According to the article Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You published in Time Magazine, “There’s no code of conduct. There’s no standard. There’s nothing that safeguards privacy and establishes rules of the road.” There truly are no limits when it comes to the Internet. You can Google somebody’s name and find a good amount of information on them even though that person has never put their information out to the public. Most of us tend to think that our lives are completely private, but that’s usually not the case. Not only is it easy for relatives or friends to find information about you on the Internet now, it’s also very easy for law enforcement.

As taken from the article, Facebook friend turns into Big Brother“Law enforcement has to evolve with technology, it has to happen.” Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram are making it easier for law enforcement to find and punish people for certain crimes such as underage drinking. Some people are against this, because they believe that law enforcement should be out stopping crime, not sitting on a computer analyzing people’s social networks.

Taken directly from The American Civil Liberties Union, according to Nathan Wessler the FBI claims that it can read emails as well as other electronic communications without a warrant. How does that make you feel knowing that your personal emails are being read by the FBI? I’m sure you feel like it’s a violation of your privacy. This is just another example showing that when it comes to the Internet nothing we do is private.

Privacy has changed over the years; it is harder to keep our lives to ourselves. Between social networks, and everything the Internet has to offer it is much easier to obtain information on other people. Do you think it is possible to be truly private? What do you think about law enforcement’s idea in regards to evolving with technology?


19 thoughts on “What Does Privacy Mean Today?

  1. In my opinion it is not possible to be “private” With the FBI having the ability to read and observe anything you post or send on the internet without a warrant privacy has become just a myth. No a day’s people use the internet for absolutely everything. Banking is done online now, ordering food, research, there are even videos that teach you how to use the bathroom, and I could go on and on. I don’t think that there’s a soul in the world who doesn’t use the internet for everything, and now that a federal agency can monitor our activity and read our emails without us knowing or consenting to it privacy and all it use to protect has become null and void. In regards to law enforcement evolving with technology, we can’t blame them, with them being able to know what you Google and did on the internet it makes it easier for them to do their jobs and we make it easier by putting ourselves out there.

    • I do agree with you, in our society today law enforcement has to do what they can in order to make things easier for them. Also, it’s true mostly anything can be done online now. People can order their food online, even start relationships online. The internet has no limits anymore.

  2. The “private” world as we knew it is long gone. This connected hybrid new world is a bit scarier. It’s hard to determine where the line should be drawn when it comes to what law enforcement should or shouldn’t do as it relates to social media sites. I admit I’m all for police and other officials using social networking sites to track down child predators, rapists and other felons, because we all want those undesirables off the streets. But really, to have an officer dedicated to finding twenty-year old college students drinking beer or committing some other misdemeanor is going a bit too far. I’m agreement with Bauer, the 20-year old who indicated that those same resources (the cops surfing the web) could be used to find and apprehend more dangerous criminals. http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_0ff40f7a-d4d1-11de-afb3-001cc4c002e0.html

    It’s a revenue-generating department for law enforcement and money talks, so I’m sure as long as people continue to keep posting unlawful things they’ve done and a cop can find them; the money will keep rolling in.

  3. Well I do definitely believe that websites like Spokeo are a scam. You can’t see the information available on you unless you have an account. You can’t have an account 1. unless you pay 2. unless you fill in even more information about yourself. So I think people might become scared about what information there is on them, but yet they end up probably providing half of it by trying to view it. I personally think it is very hard to live a private life. Certain things on the internet bother me. I hate it when you are signed into your email and then you are looking up things online. I always feel like they know what I’m looking up.

  4. With the Internet, I believe that it is not possible to keep your information private without someone viewing your information. Why? Because it is the Internet! For one, Google can show information about your Facebook or Twitter accounts and email addresses. Additionally, websites such as Spokeo.com can show your full name, where you live, how many relatives you have, and even how much your house is worth! How do websites like these get such personal information without you even providing it? In regards to the police and Bauer’s case, I think that it was not fair for them to do that because there are a million more people posting pictures online of them doing illegal activities. I feel as though the police need to get off they’re butts and get into streets to do their jobs.

    • It’s true nowadays everything is on the internet. I think that Spokeo.com gets their information from different things we may type into our computers while we are on the internet. For example, if I was to order something online and I type in my address even though it’s supposed to be secure there are ways around that, and so I think people can do whatever they must in oder to make their website successful.

  5. I think staying truly private can have a lot of different meanings for different people. To me, it would mean not being able to find any personal identifiable information about someone on the internet. I really do not think it is possible anymore because the internet has become a standard of living for pretty much everyone now. Whether we like it or not, we pretty much have to accept this.

    In terms of law enforcement using Facebook and twitter to catch underage drinkers, I think this is pretty dumb on the drinker’s part. They have control on whether they want to be discreet about it. It’s evident that there are underage drinkers in the country, but it is still a law. So I think law enforcement should be able to do this, and the underage drinkers who do even care if they post pictures of them drunk on Facebook should be punished.

  6. Websites like spokeo.com are making it near impossible to have a truly private life if you use the internet to do anything. I cannot keep track of how many times I’ve had to enter my personal information into a computer for any number of reasons. Even the websites I like to visit tell a lot of information about me. All of this time spent in cyberspace means that the physical world has to adapt. Even now the police like you’ve said have had to evolve their methods of fighting crime in order to get with the new way people are spending their time in cyberspace. I’m not surprised by this but I’m also not surprised by the controversy it seems to have caused. I think most people today, generally speaking, feel their privacy is being taken away from them. This is probably true but it seems to be one of the costs of using the internet in all its glory. We like the internet because of all the times it has helped us get the information we want but on the other hand we despise it when it reveals information we want private. The internet seems to be a double-edge sword but it has always been an excellent source of information for better or for worse.

  7. I feel that law enforcement agencies should have to obtain a warrant to use someones private Facebook account as a way to prove their guilt of a crime. Just as they have to obtain a warrant to search your house, or tap your phone. I think that it should be considered improper search and seizure if they use Facebook to arrest you, if your account is set to private. Also the police did not identify themselves as the police when they sent their friend request. A police officer has to identify his or her self when they come to your door why does this not apply to Facebook or the internet? I think that this use of the internet without our permission or a warrant from a court is a blatant violation of our rights. If they would like to use the internet or any kind of new technology they should have to get a warrant, just as they would for any other means of searching. On the other hand this does not apply to a public social media account or any info that you place on a public forum on the internet. Just as if a cop can see something through your window it gives them probable cause to enter without a warrant a profile picture or information they can see without being invited does not need a warrant, so wise up and set your privacy settings.

  8. Very nice article, thanks for providing all the links and stuff.
    To answer your question about the law enforcement digging into social media, I have a mixed opinion on this.
    First, if underage kids are dumb enough to put the pictures up on social media of them doing something illegal, they deserve to get punished for it. That’s the problem with younger people nowadays, they feel the need to share every little piece of information in their lives, to the point where you could map out their week just by looking at your Facebook wall. If you’re going to be dumb enough to put those pictures out there publicly and then add someone you don’t know (like the cop profile), you deserve to get a ticket.
    On the other hand, I feel as though law enforcement could be doing something a little bit more hard-hitting with their time. Yes, underage drinking is an issue and I don’t support it at all, but at the same time, how do cops know who’s drinking and who’s not? Sure, if you find kids drinking or doing drugs, give them a ticket, but what about the kids they add that don’t have any illegal activities going on, at least none that they can see. That just gives them the right to snoop through profile after profile until they find something. I don’t think that’s right. If you can look up a person and just see pictures out in the open on their page of illegal activities, then go ahead, ticket them. But if you have to add a private profile, snoop through loads of pictures and comments, that isn’t really fair.
    It’s really a mixed review for me, both sides have their pros and cons. I think I’m going to do some more research on this subject and see if I can get for information about how it works to better form an opinion.

  9. I don’t think it is possible to be truly private in today’s world unless you literally don’t involve yourself in internet use at all, which is hard today. Our everyday life is operated by the internet is some way. Some people even have jobs where they use computers all day long. Even when you put your social networks on “private”, they really arent private. As soon as you enter your information into that particular site, that info is spread across the internet.
    After reading the article Facebook Friend turned into Big Brother, the law enforcement can do good things when is comes to the evolving techonology, but they need to focus more on severe things that are happening online, not a minor drinking. That’s the least of their problems.

  10. The simple answer is no. It is impossible to be completely private. It has always been impossible though if we are truly honest with ourselves. Even before internet and computers and social media, people had the ability to stalk one another. It’s much easier nowadays because of our advances in technology, but it was still never unachievable. Today, the information others know about us is scattered across the web and can easily be pieced together though. Back in the day, someone would have to follow you, wait in the tree outside your house, and put microphones in your house to achieve close to the same amount of information. Here’s an Article about stalking through social media in today’s world http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/01/social-media-smartphones-stalking. The point here though, is that the level of publicity we all receive has always been possible but just with a higher level of difficulty. I do like the fact that law enforcement can easily access the information they need to protect us. Here’s an example of an act that was passed for these reasonshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Act . It’s Very controversial but necessary I feel. I don’t however like the government snooping on my business unnecessarily. I think they should be required to get a warrant to search emails etc. if there isn’t a suspicion of terrorism or criminal activity, especially with warrants so easy to get approved these days.

  11. I think its nearly impossible to be truly private. I was thinking one of the only ways to be completely private is to not have any type of technology, mostly a computer. But then I thought of my grandparents and how they don’t have a computer. They are still on the white pages website, listed with their name and address. You can’t stop people you know from posting things about you as well. It makes sense that the laws are always evolving since technology is also. Think about a few years ago, cops did not even have to think about underage drinking on social media and now it is a hot topic and concern.

  12. To be totally private, you would have to be completely secluded from the world. Just someone taking a picture that just so happens to have you in it is enough to get your name and picture out there. Being totally private is not possible in my eye. Our government is always going to have access to our data and emails. There are suspicions that they even have access to our cameras on our phones, laptops, and gaming consoles. There seems to be a common solution to every issue brought up so far. If there is something you don’t want being open to the public or government, dont use the internet for it.

  13. To be totally private, you would have to be completely secluded from the world. Just someone taking a picture that just so happens to have you in it is enough to get your name and picture out there. Being totally private is not possible in my eye. Our government is always going to have access to our data and emails. There are suspicions that they even have access to our cameras on our phones, laptops, and gaming consoles. There seems to be a common solution to every issue brought up so far. If there is something you don’t want being open to the public or government, dont use the internet for it.

  14. I totally agree with what most of you are saying. There’s no way to ever be completely private, especially with the way things are now. The only way to be private would be to get rid of your internet, phones, etc and have no contact with the outside world.


    This article brings up some good points. You don’t even have to have a presence on social media sites in order to have information about you shared! Friends can easily share information and photos of you on their pages. It’s like nothing is sacred anymore.

  15. I do believe that there are better things that law enforcement agencies could put their money and time towards, and in essence I’m sure facebook crackdowns do little to cut down on underage drinking. The mass majority of underage drinking will NOT be posted to facebook or instagram or anything, probably due to the fact that most underage drinkers are not THAT stupid.
    As for privacy, nothing is private. If you’re on the web at all, you’re essentially on every person’s computer at the same time. There isn’t just one copy of a photo anymore; saving photos off of facebook or any social networking site is easy, and anything posted anywhere can be easily duplicated.

  16. Pingback: (I Always Feel Like) Somebody’s Watching Me | The Small Business Report

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