Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has evolved rapidly over the past century. This has transformed the people’s lives as well as the society in a more profound way (both positively and negatively). Technology advancement has led to numerous benefits globally. However, it has brought with it several ethical challenges. An example of these challenges is the threat to privacy. In this paper, I discuss the threat that technology poses to people’s privacy. This threat is more profound especially on surveillance, social networks such as Facebook, as well as computerized conversations recording.
Technology as a Threat to Privacy
Just as the Luddites had their fears on technology advancement, today those concerns, and more, still prevail. It is also justified to have fears of technology, where the most profound one is “threat to privacy.” According to Nissenbaum (2009), “information technology” has been figured as the significant threat to individual’s “privacy”. From the three top threats to privacy, surveillance is considered as the major one.
Surveillance, both by the government and “self-surveillance” poses a substantial threat to individual’s privacy. According to Kang et al. (2012), the threat does not only come from the government or company’s surveillance, but also from “nascent data practice,” which is referred to as “self-surveillance” (p. 812). Recording one’s information such as observations and one’s environments, which exposes the individual to the world, is one way that privacy is invaded (Kang et al. 2012). Government and business or company surveillance invade employees and visitors’ privacy at the workplace. The information that would rather be better-kept secret is exposed to the managers and top executives. This is unfair since there are no surveillance cameras to “watch” those senior officials and administrators. Additionally, in most times, “monitoring and tracking” especially “dataveillance” does not serve the particular purpose “but an inadvertent consequence of some other goal for which a given system was originally designed,” (Nissenbaum 2009, p. 24). This calls for more worries concerning modern technologies and their contribution to individual security and privacy. Similarly, distribution of information on global “social media” platforms like Facebook or Instagram is a threat to personal privacy.
Facebook, as a social platform, has been perceived as a threat to privacy. According to Goldie (2010), Facebook’s agenda to enhance “transparency” and efficient communication has contributed to “self-surveillance” which leads to complete disclosure of individual’s personal information to the public. Consequently, since information is stored in big databases, manipulation is possible and this invades privacy (Goldie 2010). In some instances, the information that one chooses to remain is exposed to the public. This means that Facebook is a potentially significant threat to privacy. Additionally, concerns about privacy have been facilitated by the current data collection, extensive data analysis, and collection technologies.
New technologies and innovations have been subject to criticism due to their invasion of privacy. According to Regan (1995), modern technologies advance some policy issues concerning privacy mainly at personal level. Such concerns are crucial and widely experienced today. For example, recording of phone call conversations threats one’s freedom to privacy, which results to fears against technology innovation. Similarly, such technologies give organizations and the government more power over individuals (Regan 1995). This is why the concern of technology is profound and highly justified.
In conclusion, privacy interest is a major issue that needs collective attention, both from the innovators and users of the modern technology. Governments should avoid using “security” as an excuse to invade people’s privacy. The technology fears experienced today are justified, and strategic measures need to be taken to protect individual’s interests about technology. Similarly, privacy protection should be the main agenda. Therefore, in as much as technological advancement is crucial, the question that should be emphasized is; are the advancements considerate of people’s fear of “personal space invasion” or not?
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