Should people have a right to privacy?

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Sy Borg
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Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by Sy Borg »

doxing

- search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
"Typically" with malicious intent, but not necessarily. The person doing the exposing might be simply wanting the truth to be told, damn the cost.

Many would question why should a person should have a problem with the truth being spoken about them. If they have done nothing wrong, they say, they have nothing to hide. If they are harmed by the truth, the logic goes, that does not matter. Of course, whose "truth" is another matter.

How do you see the ethics around privacy and how feasible are regulatory responses to protect people's privacy in today's world?
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LuckyR
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by LuckyR »

Sy Borg wrote: May 25th, 2022, 1:55 am
doxing

- search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
"Typically" with malicious intent, but not necessarily. The person doing the exposing might be simply wanting the truth to be told, damn the cost.

Many would question why should a person should have a problem with the truth being spoken about them. If they have done nothing wrong, they say, they have nothing to hide. If they are harmed by the truth, the logic goes, that does not matter. Of course, whose "truth" is another matter.

How do you see the ethics around privacy and how feasible are regulatory responses to protect people's privacy in today's world?
Great question. First, just about everyone assumes that they (and others) have a "right" to "privacy", referring specifically to information. This is a legal illusion. Very little information is truly private, legally. True, a lot of information is essentially secret, but that is different from private. If no one cares enough about your information to bother to find it, it is secret, yet is NOT private (if someone expended the energy to collect it).

Your internet information comment is a perfect example of this. Because one can post comments alone in a room under a pseudonym, folks assume they are anonymous and also private, when in fact unless one takes uncommon (though not difficult) steps to anonymize themselves, they, in fact are leaving a much more traceable digital footprint than could possibly exist before the internet. On a related note, information that was effectively secret before computers is now neither secret nor private (it never was private, even before search engines, but folks confused secret with private).

My motto is: never post anything online that you would not feel comfortable seeing on a billboard with your signature underneath it.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by chewybrian »

Sy Borg wrote: May 25th, 2022, 1:55 am
doxing

- search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
"Typically" with malicious intent, but not necessarily. The person doing the exposing might be simply wanting the truth to be told, damn the cost.

Many would question why should a person should have a problem with the truth being spoken about them. If they have done nothing wrong, they say, they have nothing to hide. If they are harmed by the truth, the logic goes, that does not matter. Of course, whose "truth" is another matter.

How do you see the ethics around privacy and how feasible are regulatory responses to protect people's privacy in today's world?
Morally, I think we have a duty to respect others' privacy unless and until they choose to become a public figure. I have a close friend who loves to spy on people on the internet. He can discover all sorts of things about you that might surprise you. I refuse to play along with him in this, but he doesn't see why I have a problem with it.

The regulation of the problem would likely prove difficult, along the lines of slander or libel. I would carve out exemptions for people who trade on their persona and those in a position of public trust, and then try to protect the privacy of the rest of us as far as reasonably possible. Even though the courts don't seem to find a constitutional right to privacy, I think they do proceed somewhat on that line. But, just like with slander or libel, intent can be tough to prove, and the damage may be done before the victim can settle their case.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Sy Borg wrote: May 25th, 2022, 1:55 am How do you see the ethics around privacy and how feasible are regulatory responses to protect people's privacy in today's world?
If there is something about me that is wholly unknown to any other person, privacy is guaranteed. In all other cases, privacy must be granted to us by others. I think the ethics are fairly straightforward. If someone wishes to keep something to themselves, and there is no good reason to make that something known, then we should grant that person 'privacy'. I suppose the crux of the matter is 'what is good reason'?
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: May 25th, 2022, 2:20 am
Great question. First, just about everyone assumes that they (and others) have a "right" to "privacy", referring specifically to information.
As I mentioned in another thread, "privacy" has two meanings. One, as you mention below, is "secret, something the public does not know or is not entitled to know." The other is "personal, individual, not public or common." E.g., "private property" denotes property owned by a particular person, and is distinguished from common, or public property. But it is not secret. Similarly, whom one marries is a private decision in the personal sense; it is not a decision for "the public" to make. But it is not secret, either. The "right to privacy" enunciated by the US Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut --- and relied upon in Roe v. Wade --- is privacy in the "personal" sense, not the "secret" sense. There is no constitutional right to keep secrets.
This is a legal illusion. Very little information is truly private, legally. True, a lot of information is essentially secret, but that is different from private. If no one cares enough about your information to bother to find it, it is secret, yet is NOT private (if someone expended the energy to collect it).
Yes indeed.

So I think Sy's question is, Is there a "right" to keep secrets, and grounds for the State to punish someone who learns (let's assume by legal means) your secret and discloses/publishes it?

There is an exception to the right of free speech for speech that is libelous or slanderous. Should there be a similar exception for speech that reveals some's secret?

There is one class of cases where disclosing secrets is punishable, namely, when the discloser violates a non-disclosure agreement (NDE). But the tort there is breach of contract, not revealing a secret per se. Anyone not bound by such an agreement who learned the secret could not be punished for revealing it.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by GE Morton »

Hypothetical: You're standing behind another person in a supermarket checkout line. That person runs her credit card through the scanner. You have a photographic memory, see the card, and commit all the info on it to memory. Then you go home and publish that information on a sketchy website. Within hours, dozens of people all over the post charges to that card, amounting to thousands of dollars, until the bank finally cancels the card. You post no charges yourself. Have you committed any crime? Have you behaved immorally?
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by GE Morton »

"all over the world"
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by JackDaydream »

Sy Borg wrote: May 25th, 2022, 1:55 am
doxing

- search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the internet, typically with malicious intent.
"Typically" with malicious intent, but not necessarily. The person doing the exposing might be simply wanting the truth to be told, damn the cost.

Many would question why should a person should have a problem with the truth being spoken about them. If they have done nothing wrong, they say, they have nothing to hide. If they are harmed by the truth, the logic goes, that does not matter. Of course, whose "truth" is another matter.

How do you see the ethics around privacy and how feasible are regulatory responses to protect people's privacy in today's world?
It is possible to ruin someone's life by finding out about details, such as personal difficulties and publishing it, especially if the information is slightly wrong or twisted in some way. The kinds of information which I am thinking about is that of medical information, including mental health issues. Also, relationship issues could be revealed with harmful intent. In particular, there is so much scandal and gossip about famous celebrities and, so much may be exaggerated like Chinese whispers.

With most people there is less likelihood of people paying much attention but with the increasing amount of information which does appear on the internet, it would be easy to target an enemy. Also, people's use of media sites can be traced by potential employers and agencies, such as the benefits office and probably many other organisations.

Some people may suggest that it only matters if someone has done something 'wrong'. However, it may not be that simple because information taken at face value may be taken out of context or distorted in some ways.

Gradually, more and more information is being shared, especially medical details. When I was working in healthcare there were basic guidelines for protecting information, known as information governance. However, it may become easier for people to hack into information through greater access through agencies. There was the Hippocratic Oath which was meant to provide confidentiality but with the use of data stored on computers and the idea of it being available for third parties, such as A and E departments, more and more people have access to personal details.

Also, the use of open planned units seems to be more commonplace. For example, when I was visiting my mother in hospital, when I was seeking information I expected to be given a private space for talking and this did not happen, even when I requested it. I have also found in organisations like the banks and chemists people are discussing my details, such as name and address without any privacy in recent times. I am not sure how much other people have noticed this but it does appear to me that the right to privacy is being eroded gradually, certainly in England. Some people may question whether there is a right to privacy but the loss of it may make people less safe from crime and also there is a loss of sensitivity to personal issues, as if people are numbers, rather than the nature of personal identity being valued.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by LuckyR »

GE Morton wrote: May 25th, 2022, 12:42 pm
LuckyR wrote: May 25th, 2022, 2:20 am
Great question. First, just about everyone assumes that they (and others) have a "right" to "privacy", referring specifically to information.
As I mentioned in another thread, "privacy" has two meanings. One, as you mention below, is "secret, something the public does not know or is not entitled to know." The other is "personal, individual, not public or common." E.g., "private property" denotes property owned by a particular person, and is distinguished from common, or public property. But it is not secret. Similarly, whom one marries is a private decision in the personal sense; it is not a decision for "the public" to make. But it is not secret, either. The "right to privacy" enunciated by the US Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut --- and relied upon in Roe v. Wade --- is privacy in the "personal" sense, not the "secret" sense. There is no constitutional right to keep secrets.
This is a legal illusion. Very little information is truly private, legally. True, a lot of information is essentially secret, but that is different from private. If no one cares enough about your information to bother to find it, it is secret, yet is NOT private (if someone expended the energy to collect it).
Yes indeed.

So I think Sy's question is, Is there a "right" to keep secrets, and grounds for the State to punish someone who learns (let's assume by legal means) your secret and discloses/publishes it?

There is an exception to the right of free speech for speech that is libelous or slanderous. Should there be a similar exception for speech that reveals some's secret?

There is one class of cases where disclosing secrets is punishable, namely, when the discloser violates a non-disclosure agreement (NDE). But the tort there is breach of contract, not revealing a secret per se. Anyone not bound by such an agreement who learned the secret could not be punished for revealing it.
I agree, I think that is Sy's question.

So the answer is that since the information is likely not legally private, disclosing it (republishing information that is already published in an obscure and seldom visited, yet perfectly public location), is perfectly legal and ethical, though I agree violates most folks' moral code.

It is something that is "wrong" for a friend to do, is neutral for a stranger to do and most would expect an enemy to do.
"As usual... it depends."
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by LuckyR »

GE Morton wrote: May 25th, 2022, 12:56 pm Hypothetical: You're standing behind another person in a supermarket checkout line. That person runs her credit card through the scanner. You have a photographic memory, see the card, and commit all the info on it to memory. Then you go home and publish that information on a sketchy website. Within hours, dozens of people all over the post charges to that card, amounting to thousands of dollars, until the bank finally cancels the card. You post no charges yourself. Have you committed any crime? Have you behaved immorally?
To my mind this case is a perfect example of conspiracy to commit a crime. One is the good memory publisher and the other is the fraudulent charger. Under US law they would be equally culpable.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: May 26th, 2022, 1:58 am
GE Morton wrote: May 25th, 2022, 12:56 pm Hypothetical: You're standing behind another person in a supermarket checkout line. That person runs her credit card through the scanner. You have a photographic memory, see the card, and commit all the info on it to memory. Then you go home and publish that information on a sketchy website. Within hours, dozens of people all over the post charges to that card, amounting to thousands of dollars, until the bank finally cancels the card. You post no charges yourself. Have you committed any crime? Have you behaved immorally?
To my mind this case is a perfect example of conspiracy to commit a crime. One is the good memory publisher and the other is the fraudulent charger. Under US law they would be equally culpable.
It would not be a conspiracy unless the discloser and the fraudulent charger were in communication and working from a common plan. But the discloser could be charged with aiding and abetting a felony.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by GE Morton »

LuckyR wrote: May 26th, 2022, 1:51 am
It is something that is "wrong" for a friend to do, is neutral for a stranger to do and most would expect an enemy to do.
I agree. It is wrong for a friend to do because it violates an implicit --- and sometimes and explicit --- promise.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by Sy Borg »

LuckyR wrote: May 26th, 2022, 1:51 amSo the answer is that since the information is likely not legally private, disclosing it (republishing information that is already published in an obscure and seldom visited, yet perfectly public location), is perfectly legal and ethical, though I agree violates most folks' moral code.

It is something that is "wrong" for a friend to do, is neutral for a stranger to do and most would expect an enemy to do.
Nicely put. However, strangers and enemies today are often the same thing, eg. Richard Dawkins receiving death threats for his comments about evolution and creationism.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by LuckyR »

GE Morton wrote: May 26th, 2022, 10:53 am
LuckyR wrote: May 26th, 2022, 1:58 am
GE Morton wrote: May 25th, 2022, 12:56 pm Hypothetical: You're standing behind another person in a supermarket checkout line. That person runs her credit card through the scanner. You have a photographic memory, see the card, and commit all the info on it to memory. Then you go home and publish that information on a sketchy website. Within hours, dozens of people all over the post charges to that card, amounting to thousands of dollars, until the bank finally cancels the card. You post no charges yourself. Have you committed any crime? Have you behaved immorally?
To my mind this case is a perfect example of conspiracy to commit a crime. One is the good memory publisher and the other is the fraudulent charger. Under US law they would be equally culpable.
It would not be a conspiracy unless the discloser and the fraudulent charger were in communication and working from a common plan. But the discloser could be charged with aiding and abetting a felony.
A sharp lawyer can convince 12 citizens that the website is the modern, digital version of communication.
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Re: Should people have a right to privacy?

Post by LuckyR »

Sy Borg wrote: May 26th, 2022, 9:30 pm
LuckyR wrote: May 26th, 2022, 1:51 amSo the answer is that since the information is likely not legally private, disclosing it (republishing information that is already published in an obscure and seldom visited, yet perfectly public location), is perfectly legal and ethical, though I agree violates most folks' moral code.

It is something that is "wrong" for a friend to do, is neutral for a stranger to do and most would expect an enemy to do.
Nicely put. However, strangers and enemies today are often the same thing, eg. Richard Dawkins receiving death threats for his comments about evolution and creationism.
I don't disagree, though the whole social media death "threat", is a misuse of the word threat. Some yahoo sitting in his mother's bssement in his underwear with a laptop, 2000 miles away from someone typing: "I hope you die", isn't really a credible threat. It's more of an attempt at an insult. It's brought up by the victim to try to garner a combination of gravitas and sympathy.
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