What Is Privacy?
The specter of George Orwell's 1984 is once again rearing its ugly head. After revolutionizing the world of telecommunications, the Internet is poised to take the next step toward ubiquity. And, with it, the Internet presents the ability to track and monitor the individual in a manner that is eerily similar to the world represented in 1984.
Many companies are attempting to connect all sorts of devices to the Internet. Although their products will provide a wealth of additional services, few have realized the consequences. Namely, when every electronic device is connected to the Internet, a person can be monitored as they drive their car, use their stereo or TV, or open the refrigerator. In short, their privacy can be (or, as many people already believe, has been) obliterated.
But, what is privacy? In the Internet age, the definition of privacy provided by Alan Westin in Privacy and Freedom seems most fitting:
Whereas privacy issues used to apply to what Chief Justice Brandeis called "the right to be left alone," Lumeria believes that privacy is not about hiding from others, but rather about controlling the flow of your personal data. For example, if you walk into Wal-Mart and the greeter at the front door calls you by your name, are you more concerned about this stranger knowing your name or the method in which your name (and possibly other information) was appropriated without your knowledge?