You may think that a private life and personal life are the same concept, but you would be incorrect. The age of the internet has completely diminished any sort of private life you may think you have. From public records, social media, and a quick internet search pretty much anyone can find out a lot about your life. Pretty scary, huh?
Now you may think that people being able to find all this information about you is an invasion of your privacy, and you wouldn’t be the first one. Back around 1940 The New Yorker published an article about child genius William James Sidis, detailing his lonely life, secret collections, and where he lived. Sidis sued for violation of privacy but ended up losing the case because he was a “public figure”.
This case set the precedent for privacy versus freedom of comment. The judge who took on this case, Judge Clark, said “…they must be allowed unless the revelations were so intimate and so unwarranted in view of the victim’s position as to outrage the community’s notion of decency.” With what we see on the internet everyday now it’s hard to imagine anything that could surprise us. Anyways, this is why we are allowed to bash on our least favorite celebrities, and what would our society be like without being able to do that?
In all seriousness, this lack of privacy in the modern world can be quite dangerous, especially with the lack of laws there are protecting us. We’ve all heard our parents say “what you put on the internet stays there forever”, and as much as I hate to admit it, they’re right. Even if you delete something, it’s not really deleted, more often than not it is floating somewhere out there in cyber space or the website you used still has it. Although it is good to have access to information about someone such as if they are a sex offender or criminal, it has its limits.
When we talk about privacy online, it’s inevitable that the topic of online harassment and revenge porn comes up. There is always going to be someone out there who puts some kind of stupid, mean comment on a video or picture. And if you fight that person they’ll claim it’s there First Amendment right. However, when that comment has a threat in it, that is when it becomes really scary, and it is not protected. With so much of our information accessible to the public, when these kinds of comments come up it can be a serious situation. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of laws that protect against this harassment. This is also true for revenge porn. The only answer that is ever given for the aftermath of revenge porn is that the video/picture shouldn’t have been taken in the first place. This is blatant victim blaming and does not hold the person who committed the crime responsible in the slightest. Not to mention, the only way to stop others from seeing your naked body is to send pictures of your naked body to random people so you can copyright your own body, which is pretty backwards if you ask me.
With our society in more and more turmoil everyday, and people becoming more and more violent, it is more important than ever to have protection against certain aspects of our lives. We shouldn’t have to live in fear that if we say one controversial thing we’re gonna be in danger, or if we wanna take a picture of ourselves nude it’s gonna end up plastered all over the internet.
Ahhh I was also so mad when the news reporters on the John Oliver video were talking about revenge porn “prevention”! I would agree that in this day and age, we’ve pretty much sold our privacy (and souls basically) to the deep web by not reading the Terms and Conditions. I would love to see a day where individuals feel legally protected if their private or personal information gets leaked, but you do bring up a good point that it’s so unrealistic because a lot of the data-breach news stories we hear about wouldn’t qualify as protected to the Supreme Court today. It seems like with the rise of media leaks in the Trump era, just about everything has become “intimate and so unwarranted in view of the victim’s position as to outrage,” it’s as if that’s become the norm, making everything else like revenge porn or unwarranted photos seem way less worthy of justice.