Privacy Be Damned: This is business

Privacy issues abound and each  day we hear about someone who wants to sue someone else for invading their privacy or a firm wants to protect its user database as a matter of privacy.  Who would deny that we all have a right to privacy?  But, when it’s couched in just the right way, might you be persuaded that the end does justify the means even if it’s an invasion of privacy?

Walking down a busy city street, do you have a right of privacy?  Turns out, you may not and going onto the sidewalk or into the street means you give up the expectation of privacy.  Anyone with a camera or a bit of video software on a smart phone can shoot video of you as you walk around and use it as they wish. Does the end justify the means in this instance?  Stock photo houses will say that if you have a recognizable person in your photos, you must have a model photo release from them, but how would you do that for a video with people streaming down the sidewalk? Obviously, you couldn’t.  Could you sell that video? That’s the question here; sales.

But what about all the electronic devices you’ve brought into your home and your car or carry on your person, do all of them negate your expectation of privacy? What if they still, without your turning them on, capture what you’re doing or saying?

Even emails are involved here.  Forget Hillary Clinton’s emails, I’m talking about your emails which you think are fairly safe.  Did you ever consider using software that provides you with a virtual private network that encrypts everything and changes your location ISP address?  Totally unnecessary, right?

Have you considered that ALL your correspondence goes over someone’s server somewhere and they have virtual access to it whenever and however they wish. Why would anyone want all those cookies? Sales, my friend, sales. Privacy is  the price you pay for cruising the internet.

You and I are able to make informed decisions about our rights and our right to privacy, but suppose you had limited ability to do this? Should you ever reside in a facility where your rights were being systematically marginalized, would you be able to stop it or would you even know about it?

Recently, an interesting conversation on this topic was on the table, as they say, and a specific instance of lack of permission regarding privacy came to the fore.  Without informing anyone who resided in the facility or their guardians, the management decided to install hidden video surveillance cameras.  Questioning  about this by a staff member who stumbled on a reference to cameras in a bland memo resulted in even more startling news.

Over 20 facilities run by this particular management company had these cameras and they had been there for some time. No one knew and residents had never been asked, nor made aware of them. Guardians were never informed.

What was the reason for the hidden cameras? Management’s response was a terse, “We need to monitor staff.” Resident privacy was not seen as an issue since there were no cameras in the bathrooms.

Ask yourself a question: How many illegal or unsavory actions take place in bathrooms? Persons interested in forensics will recall that Jeffrey Dahmer was killed in a bathroom by another prisoner as Dahmer moped the floor. The infamous drug lord Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo) made one of his escapes from prison via a bathroom. How many kids have been raped in school bathrooms?

Currently, courts are being asked to require Amazon to release audio files from the Alexa unit at the site of a murder.  Authorities are seeking the files which they believe may contain audio of what happened the night of the murder since
Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) is always on.  The fac t that the technology doesn’t automatically shut itself off isn’t unusual in the computer world since computer webcams can be on and recording without anyone’s knowledge.  Known as camfecting, it can be done by anyone who hacks your computer or you can download software to protect it in case of theft. No, the red light will NOT come on while it’s working.

Without your knowledge and consent, someone somewhere may be watching your every move or eavesdropping on all your conversations. Forget about your cell phones because, if you recall, Prince Charles had a very personal phone call with Camilla prior to their marriage and it was public knowledge. Why? Cell phones are like radios and they broadcast to anyone who wants to tap into the conversation. So, monitor yours wisely.

Amazon may only be one of the corporations that will find themselves deluged with requests or subpoenas for evidence in legal tangles and, yes, murder trials. Residents in any building should maintain the expectation not of privacy but that they will be monitored whether they want it or not.  For good or evil, it’s part of our culture.