Are we losing our right to privacy? News channels this week are covering the story about a young girl who was forced to give her FaceBook password to school officials. Colleges and employers are requiring passwords to FaceBook and other social media from new students and employees. A bill to put spy drones in American skies recently passed Congress. The TSA announced “to better protect the public” they will begin conducting roadside searches. It’s something to think about.
Judge Andrew Napolitano, an outspoken Constitutionalist recently spoke out on the ‘expectation of privacy.’ While private businesses should follow the First Amendment, he said, “The closer we get to the government, the more we must expect our First Amendment Rights to be upheld.” In the case where the young girl was coerced into sharing her password the school, as a government agency, may have violated her First Amendment Rights. Your personal FaceBook account should be considered the same as a locked diary. One can understand in the shadow of Columbine that schools want to be more proactive looking for troubled children yet the ACLU and others believe they crossed the line.
In an effort to stem further terrorism in the United States the Patriot Act was enacted. But did we go too far? Will we be sorry for hasty actions in the aftermath of 9/11? In the Land of the Free is it now acceptable to have spy planes overhead and roadside checks monitoring our movement? A former Justice Department attorney stated that a person could not automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property. What does this belief of government empowerment mean to the citizens?
Every day we voluntarily give up some privacy. If we shop at the local grocery store using our super saver card the store collects data on our purchase habits, our location, how we pay and more. When we apply for a job we may voluntarily sign a waiver that allows the employee to check our background, credit and sometimes even driving records.
If we give up information voluntarily we no longer have the same expectation of privacy. Our youth, in particular, often are unaware of the dangers sharing openly about personal topics. Many forget that digital information is never completely removed. There are many concerns that as we openly share information, especially through digital sources, our expectation of privacy becomes lessened. The Electronic Privacy Invasion Center was developed in concern that, We The People, are losing our First Amendment and Constitutional rights.
Giving government more access to our personal thoughts and actions takes away our privacy. Can we trust the government not to take advantage this information or, as Orwell wrote, will we find ourselves in a Big Brother controlled world? Once the line shifts and the expectation of privacy changes it will be difficult, if not impossible to change it back.