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April 23

A persistent fear throughout all of the Internet’s operation is the Internet’s treatment of a person’s own privacy. We have a hard enough time defining the term, much less determining what role it should play in deciding the whos, whats, and hows of Internet governance. Nevertheless, the Internet’s present evolution indicates that unless we spend time contemplating the reinforcing privacy online it way succumb to the interests of profitability, online behavior regulation, cybersecurity, and law enforcement. Today’s class will set a framework for classifying privacy issues and explore how these issues play out in online spaces.


We have a granted a one week extension to the rough draft in light of last week's events. Please have those uploaded before class on April 30th.


Optional Readings

Videos Watched in Class


Class Discussion

Please remember to sign your postings by adding four tildes (~~~~) to the end of your contribution. This will automatically add your username and the date/time of your post, like so: Asellars 15:29, 21 January 2013 (EST)

Daniel Solove concisely and accurately summarized the areas of consensus with regards to the definition of privacy when he stated that it encompasses, "(among other things) freedom of thought, control over one’s body, solitude in one’s home, control over personal information, freedom from surveillance, protection of one’s reputation, and protection from searches and interrogations." He also went on to point out that, “Privacy is a value so complex, so entangled in competing and contradictory dimensions, so engorged with various and distinct meanings, that I sometimes despair whether it can be usefully addressed at all.” These two statements probably best summarize where current thought on privacy is at this moment in world history. He goes on to emphasize how important privacy is, "Thus privacy is a fundamental right, essential for freedom, democracy, psychological well-being, individuality, and creativity. It is proclaimed inviolable but decried as detrimental, antisocial, and even pathological."

I see less problems with the actual definition of the core values which comprise privacy and more issues with drawing the borders of where privacy begins and ends. It can (more or less) be defined as the individual having his or her behavior, personal information and life protected from disclosure to anyone whom they wish to not share such information. One solution is to go back to the old paradigm of the good of the individual vs. the good of the collective. With this mindset, I believe there would be a constant shift towards the eroding away at individual privacy for the benefit of society, either real or perceived. Therefore, one must seek a minimal set of privacy rights which can either never be infringed upon, or can only be infringed upon after some sort of mechanism for "due process" has been put in place and followed and properly justified.

There are some who are criticizing police for their recent cordoning off and going house-to-house and searching for one of the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown Massachusetts. There are also those who believe, that while so many cameras in the city of Boston gave law enforcement an advantage in identifying the bombers, the sheer quantity of cameras allows the government too much power. I thought the crowd sourcing effort that the government used (posting pictures of who they strongly believed were involved in the bombing and then allowing the public to voluntarily come forward was an interesting and perhaps good example of a balance between privacy and security that can be struck in the future. With the popularity of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, such efforts have the potential to be very effective, although surely not without critics. Technology certainly makes the issue of privacy much more complicated. Data gathering via the internet, data mining tools and technologies, surveillance drones and public cameras all add further complications to the issue. CyberRalph 20:22, 21 April 2013 (EDT)