The Death of Privacy: Will It Just Be Digital?

Death of Privacy: Will it just be Digital? (opinion).

In any generation it is normal for people to look forward, into the future. People consider what life might be like for the next generation, within their mind’s eye. That process, one hopes, generally includes a perpetual wish for things to get better; develop and improve. Common sense tells us that this is how concepts of law and order came into existence.

Equal rights between the sexes and the right to vote. Equality of opportunity for all races and nationalities. Acceptance of religious and cultural differences. Tolerance and respect that is born into existence, consciously, through the will of a human majority. Often fought for over long periods of time and with great hardship.

Senior citizens alive today who lived through the second world war are perhaps the most poignant example of that process. Those people’s experiences are a living example of a curious part of the aging process: Within our relatively short lives, we are presented with the opportunity to – not only ponder possible futures – but also to see if those tomorrows come true.

privacy death ‘From the time of Magna Carta, to the civil wars and revolutions of the 17th century, through to the liberalism of Victorian Britain and the widening and deepening of democracy and fundamental rights throughout the last century, there has been a British tradition of liberty – what one writer has called our ‘gift to the world’.

Those are Gordon Brown’s words from a speech made in 2007, and they do an excellent job of describing the practical outcome of our human ability to wander through time. Revealing the way that people have fought to improve society – not only for themselves – but for the lives of following generations also.

During the 17th century, people began fighting for legal provisions to protect privacy. A popular emerging belief that was fought for at length and slowly passed into law. Civilization was doing its job well, it would appear, and was attempting to become more civilized as time passed. Proof that the time travel effect was working its magic on society in powerful ways.

Not long ago in the US and the UK (and the rest of the Western world), invasive policies at the hands of socialist regimes and dictatorships (the Kremlin or Communist Party in China for example) were staunchly frowned upon. Those were the illegal and uncivilized actions of nations that we looked down on, and felt sorry for. Cue the moody and harrowing music.

Death of PrivacyNow, things have reached a dangerous impasse. The privacy that citizens had come to expect is being quickly stolen away in favour of new control mechanisms. Terrorism that is the direct result of Western foreign policies (that the vast majority of their populations were against all along) is the main reason touted as the ‘necessity’ for this huge loss of personal privacy.

In Britain, the snoopers’ charter was just passed by the House of Commons, which means that it now only needs to go through the House of Lords. If successful there (and it will be) ISPs will have to retain all British web browsing histories for a year. In Australia similar legislation requires ISPs to help the government snoop on their customers for two years.

In the US things are similar, with the NSA and a range of government agencies able to look at people’s communications thanks to programs like PRISM and the Five Eyes; surveillance practices that are still the norm three years after Snowden’s whistleblower revelations.

Cybercrime, and a fear of being vulnerable to attack by lone wolves, terrorist organisations, or state actors, is another reason for that loss of privacy. Governments are deciding that they need broad surveillance powers to be able to combat the threat of cyber criminals attacking vital national infrastructure.

One example of that type of cybercrime occurred in Ukraine, where cyber criminals managed to cause power outages. Leading to a fear that hackers could one day, perhaps, cause a catastrophe at a nuclear power station resulting in a loss of life: Or, at least, power outages closer to home.

While hacking does pose risks, the other side of the coin is that it can also be seen as a way for society to fight back against the invasive political will. Politics is closely tied to wealth and the will of a corporate minority. No matter how you look at it, that corporate will has a huge effect on politics. A two-horse race that has been heavily lobbied on both sides hardly seems like a glamorous option; nor does it feel like real democracy. Certainly, allegations of corruption contained within the recent Guccifer 2.0 hacks, if proven to be true, demonstrate that cyber criminals can actually work for the people. As well as against them.

With that in mind, the ability to hack into the computers of government agencies or party leaders (for the reason of exposing corruption) is one of humanity’s last hopes for regaining control of how policy is decided. Democracy as it was intended, and along with it a renewed respect for the freedom and privacy of the general population. Rights that need to be prised out of the hands of the corporate hidden hand and its proxy governments.

anonymous hacktivism

The death of privacy?

In the UK, William Hague has only recently announced his opinion that nobody has an absolute right to privacy,

‘In a world where private information can quite often protect the taxpayer, or stop a multitude of crimes, or save lives, in my view there can ultimately be no absolute right to privacy. There can be many powerful constraints on intruding into that privacy, but there has to be what there has been in the past, a sense of shared responsibilities between service providers and governments to protect both security and privacy as best they can.’

Am I the only one that thinks everyone has an absolute right to privacy, until, at least, they have been proven to be strongly suspected of committing a crime? Once under investigation for a crime for which there is evidence of their involvement, by all means may a court rule that the person should be investigated – including a search of their digital presence.

As it stands, however, the death of privacy that is currently being forced upon Western nations feels in danger of exploding; and spreading into the real world as well (as opposed to remaining in the digital realm).

Just recently, when talking about the San Bernardino massacre, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump voiced his opinion that,

‘We need to make sure every single person involved in this plan, including anyone who knew something, but didn’t tell us, is brought to justice. These people need to have consequences, big consequences.’

That opinion demonstrates his will for a worrying alteration to the kinds of freedom and privacy that people within society are entitled to. He is literally saying that a person becomes a criminal simply for minding their own business. The description of a world where ‘live and let live’ is outlawed and you are prosecuted for silently going about your day.

Could this belief amongst the political elite be a sign of where invasive digital policies are taking us?

Ray Walsh I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR and I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood and love to listen to trap music.

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3 responses to “The Death of Privacy: Will It Just Be Digital?

  1. Unfortunately, your article -smart- and this blog is full of quality but it requires a little bit of culture & honesty.
    1° – no, uk was never during its history for privacy (it was & it is yet a diplomatic rule for a commercial deal).
    2° – no, the ancient/next generation rarely think/built/dream/act for a better life (the period are different and the people are different for a different future : implementing an ethical concept in an hazard is absurd).
    3° – no, a privacy cannot be stolen : it is yours but someone could “live” a part of it
    4° – the 3 actors are doing the same errors ; they are cutting the same sens in the same 3 parts like if it was a piece of bread.
    a) William Hague :no absolute right to privacy/shared responsibilities/both security and privacy
    b) Ray Walsh :absolute right to privacy until/a court rule that the person should be investigated/under investigation for a crime for which there is evidence of their involvement
    c) Donald Trump :every single person/involved in this plan/knew something, but didn’t tell us

    The privacy that you are speaking about is a fear that someone , somewhere could be guilty and should have to pay for that.
    It is not adam & eve and not a tale with sherlock holmes as hero.
    History has its own rules that no one can ignore : in fact you cannot go far if the last step is not finished or cleaned.

    Privacy must be re-created with new tools in a new direction for a new goal and not kept as a clone of an “identified life unknown”.

    The same errors are done from the same culpability ; a balance that you cannot research and found (you are not able to) , a choice that you cannot make ( a vice is a mirror/reflect of your origin) , a deviance that you use for manipulating the reason.
    These are religious matter.

    An opinion even proven being the best or accurate or pretty relevant cannot replace a truth : when a thing disappears it is often because too many people do not use it anymore.

    Who do care about freedom or privacy or civilization or the future ?
    Certainly the persons who do need it and certainly the persons who fell the fear to loose it.
    And it is not the same persons.
    It is the fourth error that i notice in your article.

    Am I the only one that thinks everyone has an absolute right to privacy (without any condition/blackmail) ?

    In fact , you mix a contract and a privacy : this invasive digital policies is a contract where money play the role of flux of bit and the privacy is the joint-venture where you must be involved with the political elite decisions. It means that for your happiness you must sacrifice your identity.

    Do you need anymore political elite, a chief, a father, someone who is pointing in the right direction ? that is the point.

    1. Thankyou for your comment Merkedanke, Im glad you found it thought provoking. I appreciate your points.I was simply attempting to describe for our readers how the political elite feel about privacy with some examples and quotes. I didnt actually propose a solution, but simply presented an argument for a possible worsening of the problem in years to come if we keep moving in this particular direction.

      I think what you are refering to is the idea that we can live in a anarchistic ecosysytem,without the need to be handed out laws by any central command. Or to have to pay money to be protected from ‘enemies’, but then if we dont pay those tax monies we are subject to the ruling class punishing us – as if they were an enemy anyway? Of course, there is a strong argument for this anarchistic solution from the current world wide societal problem.

      Im sorry that you felt I made errors, but all I tried to do was explain to people what is happening now, what has happened to get us here(somewhat briefly), and how that may become an even bigger privacy cancer in the future.

      Once again, thanks for reading and Im glad it captured your imagination – always happy to hear from reader opinions – and to have them here for people to see another valuable perspective.
      All my Best.

      1. I thing you hide few details and it is not honest.
        I think you do not remember the last centuries or thousands of year and it is a lack of culture.
        > |how the political elite feel about privacy|
        No, the us political elite (uk&us from your article) do not feel and have not opinion about privacy ; they are on the run , in the course for their own leadership/election and their words are coming from their predecessor(s) _ so with the agreement of their opponent : it is not a spy game, even not propaganda but their job. nothing personal or aggressive ; just a public conference with few common (often vulgar) words that it suits you as citizen.
        > |we keep moving in this particular direction.|
        The choice will be revealed in few days/weeks/months (referendum&presidential election) ; i suppose that electors will decide for the best.

        > |you are refering to|
        No, i said that analyzing a political situation must be done over a large period from real fact.

        > |privacy cancer in the future|
        It is their future for their pleasure even if , as far as you are concerned, it will look at the hell.
        Their will , their feeling, their ambition is far better, far stronger than the right way. That is my respect for their privacy:secret.

        > |perspective|
        Let’s explain few minutes that it means but deeply pls:
        you (anybody) are here and you wonder the reason why you have not your private/own life ; after few second of “thinking” you realize that someone stole you (the male/female you should have to marry with, the job you should have to obtain etc.) but how (and not why , your article is about why …) have they done this ?
        what is the perspective for (anybody) now ?
        Moving in another direction, living this false identity without oneself ?
        Stopping the bad direction because he/she knows that is worst than it looks ?
        Researching another direction or staying without spirit ?

        Explaining the reason why the wall is in front of us is a good job and it is yours.
        Explaining how they success to become an elite could be also interesting.
        Let’s take a historic example :
        How UK could avoid to help his friend _Scotland_ to be free (referendum past) ? Like they have done 800 years ago because the Scottish are stupid.
        How America could avoid to help his friend _ their citizens from different origins (1/3 are speaking spanish )_ ? Like they have done 300 years ago rejecting their native language and tradition.
        Do we need so many centuries for understand that it can be better without them ?

        *you mix imperialism & anarchism & a human kingdom without god … it recalls me some old legend.


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