Privacy is one of the most important rights that we have here in the United States. There really is no other way to phrase this, other than to say it outright. It is so important that it forms the base layer of our right to free expression, which I will elaborate more on shortly.
For the people who don’t care about their privacy, they often say, “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care?” However, in my view, the people who say this often have a fundamental misunderstanding of just how important the right to privacy is. At the very least, it shows that they haven’t been paying attention or are too caught up with their day to day to remember people like Edward Snowden.
If that’s true, it shows that the speaker clearly hasn’t read or interacted with any media where the right to privacy doesn’t exist. Because if they had, they would know about the hellscape that ensues. Just watch the “Black Mirror” episode The Entire History of You, or read Orwell’s “1984” if you want to see some examples of what this could look like. Or you can look to countries like North Korea and China, where expression and personal privacy are extremely restricted.
If one genuinely doesn’t think that the right to privacy is important or fundamental, then of what use is the right to free expression? Privacy is needed to allow ideas to mature and develop. Free expression depends upon people being able to choose what they share and when. This naturally extends to what an individual chooses not to share.
With this in mind, how then are we able to freely express ourselves in the digital age, where everything you do is scrutinized, cataloged and tracked by the biggest corporations that currently exist? We are already living in a time where a smartphone is almost a societal requirement here in the US. And seeing as most smartphones act as a miniature telescreen, it’s certainly worrisome in this regard.
If nothing else, I would like you, the reader, to think about what information all these big corporations and governments are actually collecting, as well as if that is something that you, as an individual with autonomy, want them to actually collect from you. Is sacrificing your unalienable rights a worthwhile trade for anything, let alone safety, security or advertisements? Is it really ethical for you as a consumer to benefit multi-billion dollar companies, whose sole purpose is to gather data about you to sell to the highest bidder?
Ultimately, the answer to this question is one that you have to answer yourself. Do you care about your rights? Or would you rather trade them for whatever is most expedient?
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.