Argyris Gabriel | Technology Editor | Monday 25 July 2016 | GMT 16:00 | firstname.lastname@example.org
We are all private in our lives at some point or another – one main example is locking the bathroom door when we go to relieve ourselves (other than my mother, which I still don’t understand). More to the point, it’s something we require: introverts use it to ‘recharge’ their social batteries while extroverts use it to plan and arrange social events. As technology is ever growing, ever expanding, it is possible to argue that privacy is either becoming redundant or being forced from us. Personally, it is impossible to count the amount of times I’ve been sent pictures of people who were on the toilet or in other private situations, and while these are conscious decisions, we also agree to countless privacy invasions without realising.
Most individuals are now educated of the fact that a company’s terms and service agreement allows them to look through individual searches, interests, any and all information through that medium to sell it to third parties. We came to be educated of this due to many awareness campaigns by the general public themselves, as they saw the threat this could pose. Most recently, an example for smart phones is the application Pokémon Go, which is the most downloaded app in all the regions it has been released in.
While everybody knows that Pokémon Go tracks your location in real time (the purpose of the game is to physically walk outside to look for Pokémon), most don’t know that it also looks into your browser searches, app usage, and so forth even when inactive. When we willingly pave the way to these companies to invade our personal lives like this by simply not reading terms and service agreements, we are allowing them to possibly be even more ludicrous in the future with the information they receive from our personal devices.
Everyone is weary of hackers, and this is because they invade our privacy (stealing also being a contributory factor). As a result of this, I know many people who use electrical tape to cover the camera lens on their laptop. Imagine having taken a break from something on your laptop, the weather is hot and you decide to get changed, but then someone is watching a live feed without your knowledge through your laptop camera; it truly is a horrible thought and yet this does happen. Here it is less the fact that privacy is becoming redundant and more to the idea that modern technology is making it drastically easier to access people’s private lives in both consensual and non-consensual manners.
On another hand however, it is possible to argue that privacy is a construct of technology in the first place. Referring back to the theme of toilets, before the invention of the modern toilet when restrooms and lavatories were holes in the ground that led to a pit out in open air, they were commonly used as a place of communion – people would gather to do their business and catch up with friends (air fresheners sold separately).
My writing usually tackles how the world has handled technology; whether it’s made any notable change, and this is no different. Privacy has always been the product of innovations that lead people to create cultural ideals that certain things should be done in private. The common Roman in the colosseum would have had sex with a partner in the stands, in African tribes women bear their breasts out proudly as men and so on and so on.
Technology will always be innovating, always be expanding and as a by-product of this, it is certainly possible in the future to see technology stripping us of all privacy. Many famous books and television products tackle the idea that technology will one day take a backseat in our own minds, monitoring our actions under the pretence of peaceful living. Overall however, our mediums of socialisation: the media, education and family all tell us and will likely continue to tell us what is ‘private’. In short, privacy is a branch product from technology leading us to question: has anything ever really been private?