Right up until the 18th century, the word ‘Privacy’ meant something very different. It could extend as far as people peeping into other windows, over their fences, eavesdropping, or opening someone else’s letters and reading its contents.
With the advent of the internet and technology in the 19th century, the word privacy began to take a whole new form. Now, when we refer to privacy, we think of our personal information and data making its rounds on the internet.
What are privacy rights?
It is curious to note that in the US constitution, there is no mention of ‘Privacy Rights’ in these specific terms- even now. However, the Supreme Court states that these privacy rights exist, but only under the penumbra of several other kinds of enumerated rights.
When we think of privacy rights, we mean the universal laws and rights that every individual has over their personal information, data, and property. Disclosure of these private facts can cause an infringement of an individual’s privacy rights.
As society continually develops, so do our individual’s needs for privacy, and thus, our rights. The right to privacy has been a debated issue for years now, and it is only now, with the growing distribution of our private data, that people are more mindful of the term ‘privacy.’
Privacy in the modern world
At one point in time, someone opening up our letters or postcards was thought of as the biggest threat to our privacy. In this day and age, however, we don’t even give a passing thought to these, as we have much bigger fish on our plates.
Our entire lives revolve around technology, more importantly, our phones. With the perpetually growing number of apps that we are using on our phones, the question boils down to how much do we know about our privacy rights?
For those individuals who are none the wiser, they do not think twice before clicking on the “I Agree” button on their phones or laptops on some websites. They don’t think before posting another selfie, or a picture of their work desk on to their social media pages. They don’t even think before they share their location with social media apps while sharing photos and videos!
Most of the time, these little actions don’t do much. At least that’s what most people seem to think. But the simple fact remains that by just a few simple clicks and searches, it can be a piece of cake for absolutely anyone to discover where you are, where you have been, where you work, who your family and friends are, and a whole bunch of other private information about you.
Well, then you just don’t post on social media, right? That way, no one knows.
It’s not that simple.
If you use your phone to book tickets (to a flight, or just a movie), the information is stored. Using that information, your phone recommends to you what time you should leave your home to reach on time. It tells you what the weather will be like, the places you should visit on your trip, where you should eat. You might think that this is convenient, and no one except for yourself can see this information, right?
The data which your ‘phone’ collects can be used in a hundred other ways. Your information is sold over the internet to companies, who then send you tailor-made advertisements to lure you into clicking on websites, to buy new things. This is how they make money off you and your views, even off your clicks.
The fact remains that even though we are not comfortable with the Government having our data, our faces, or our fingerprints, we gladly offer these up to our phones. From fingerprint scanners to unlock our phones, to facial recognition systems on apps, we do a dozen little things every day where we are giving up our privacy.
The global pandemic and our rights to privacy
In 2020, the world was impaled by a global pandemic known as the Covid-19. It came very suddenly and changed our lives very drastically- for the worse. Life as we know it is no more. We cannot go out. We cannot meet our family and friends. We cannot even go for a walk or an ice cream!
Most of all, our work life has taken a toll. On our finances, our physical and mental health, and our privacy as well. With many companies forcing their employees to keep their webcams on during working hours, a lot of us are getting a ‘Big Brother’ feel to life.
The most straightforward example we can see to our right to privacy can be with the case of a contact tracing app we are all asked to download during this global pandemic. This app allows us to recognize when someone else (who has the app installed on their phones) are close to us for a while. Although we think that this information can potentially save us from danger, we fail to believe that these systems contain our very own data logs as well. It gives them the data and information of where we have been, whom we have been with, and for how long.
In this modern-day and age, it can get close to impossible actually to contain our private information. From Facebook, Instagram, Uber, and so many other seemingly harmless apps containing all our private information, we are left to wonder whether we have any privacy rights in this world or not.
If you are the victim of cybercrime or facing privacy issues, you might want to seek legal advice. Contact a criminal lawyer to advice on the actions that can be taken depending on who the perpetrator is. In these modern times, some of our lawyers are now offering video consultations.