Privacy and Human Rights Violations in the Twenty-First Century

In a world where technology is rapidly transforming aspects of everyday life, human rights and personal privacy is being redefined and needs to be challenged.

| September 2015

The threats to privacy in today’s world are well known: anything from credit card information being stolen from retailers to social media designers changing our privacy settings when it pleases, the invasion of privacy is being redefined by technological advancements. Privacy in the Modern Age (The New Press, 2015), edited by Marc Rotenburg, Julia Horwitz and Jeramie Scott, contains essays by contributors who don’t simply describe these problems or warn about the loss of privacy — they propose solutions. This essay by Deborah Hurley explores privacy as a human right, how technology is invading our privacy, and what can be done to change this privacy invasion.

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Queen Elizabeth I passed a law in 1571 mandating that all male commoners in England must wear a woolen cap. The queen had good reason for this early Renaissance industrial policy. It was enacted to protect the English knitting industry and to provide employment for the people.

This rule may seem quaint today, one of the sweeping, imperious edicts from the era of absolute monarchy. Yet, is it not possible to imagine an upcoming regulation, Off with Their Hats!, barring  the  near-ubiquitous  baseball cap  and  other brimmed hats so that facial recognition technology will not be frustrated in its efforts to capture digital images and measurements of every face?



Another tough leader, Theodore Roosevelt, shouted into the throng at Madison Square Garden a century ago, “Friends, perhaps once in a generation, perhaps not so often, there comes a chance for the people of a country to play their part wisely and fearlessly in some great battle of the age-long warfare for human rights.”

Go suit up. Privacy is a human right.

Boston
5/14/2018 10:39:52 AM

Having found the Bluetooth on my device turned on without my knowledge multiple times I installed Bluetooth firewalls, only to discover that my "location" was being turned on in a similar fashion. Yet I had turned it off in device settings despite the warning that my phone when lost would not be located (exactly why!). With corporations selling our information without our knowledge or consent, in a decidely technological world one must decide where to draw the line. There must be a modicum of sanity between being a part of a society that is aware of the increasing loss of privacy, while choosing to progressively throw away their freedoms and rights for convience. With all ground to traverse between there and the far edge with those who have "dropped out" one discovers it really isn't that much ground, rather it appears as a great chasm. (Posted while humming "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider and feeling it may not be such a negative thing. Privacy IS synonymous with Freedom.)