Privacy in the modern era

What information is private in the modern era?
What information is private in the modern era?

By Harry Warnaar (Junior)

In light of recent events regarding the privacy and decency of celebrities, questions have been raised about the direction we’re heading as a culture. A question that seems to have an obvious answer: “Is anything private anymore?” Well of course we have privacy, right? As technology advances by the minute, is there anything you can’t find out about someone if you really tried? If the Internet is such an inevitable breach of privacy, should we even care?

When it comes to the grand stage of the red carpet, you see two polar opposites in the debate of privacy. One one hand you have the celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, among others, who had nude photos leaked from their phones. There was a huge outcry against these hacks from the celebrities themselves, some even considering it a form of rape. On the other hand you have Kim Kardashian and her infamous Paper Magazine cover, which included a shot of her naked. But who’s really at fault here?

The Internet trolls were able to “hack” their phones by finding out their emails, trying to log onto their iTunes accounts, clicking “forgot password,” and answering the given security question. The “hackers” then simply stalked these women over the Internet for days on end trying to find out the slightest details like “what’s your mother’s maiden name?” Or “what was your first pet?”  The celebrities offered these clues without much thought; little did they know they were giving the 4Chan creepers the key they needed to whatever pictures, emails, contacts, and other personal information they needed. So does Kardashian have the right idea in embracing this lack of privacy? Or was it just a media stunt to draw even more attention towards herself?

But does this hacker harassment only affect the rich and famous? I mean, no one would really want to hack me, right? As it turns out, we are also targets of determined hackers. While it’s easier to hack a famous person due to pre-existing information on the Internet, we are still vulnerable. As technology advances, so does the hacking methods–from tracking keystrokes, to fake “friendly wifi” that lures in phones only to steal the info they initially give off. This includes your exact location. (Remember the “_______ would like to use your location” notification?) there is even a reddit page with IP addresses for unlocked security cameras that anyone could access. Some were even moveable! Some interesting ones I’ve found included; a German university courtyard (I watched a man play basketball), a controllable hotel, poolside camera in Florida (I followed this one family around), and some eastern European laboratory (complete with dated, 60s technology). The point is that we are at the whim of the hackers, who aren’t just some tech-savvy delinquents, but are also possibly the people running our country.

Love him or hate him, Edward Snowden revealed that the government has been tracking all of our calls, texts, and emails and have been keeping them in a database. This database has the intention of catching terrorists. Many citizens were outraged by this. Personally, I wasn’t very surprised, after all the spy movies I’d seen as a kid, I kind of assumed that’s what the government did in it’s free time. What Snowden revealed showed us that not only should we fear individuals invading our privacy, but our own government. And I think it’s safe to say that it’s not good having a government citizens can’t trust.

I want to bring up the original question one more time. “Is anything private anymore?” While the rapidly growing world of technology is globalizing everything we do, we can still find some privacy in the analog world. It’s important for us as people to never forget the magic of actual human interaction and interaction with our physical surroundings. And if done carefully, you can have a moment of privacy, detached from the rest of the world. Everyone may know how perfect your pumpkin spice latte is, but no one has to know about your moment of wonder as you stared out the window at the starry night, attempting to take in how vast the universe is. Because remember, you’re always alone in your mind. For now…

One thought on “Privacy in the modern era

  1. I really love this article because of how honest it is. It’s really eye opening for readers to hear about exactly how public everything we do is, and I think that we need to spread this information around until everyone understands. Is Big Brother really so fictional nowadays? Maybe George Orwell wasn’t so far off with his novel “1984.”


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