Privacy Is Dead


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Ever wanted to disappear without a trace? Well, stop what you’re doing right now. The unsolved murder of Philip Welsh, a 65-year-old man from Silver Spring, Maryland, sheds some light on the power of having an online presence in contemporary society. Welsh’s murder remains unsolved nearly a year later partly due to his complete avoidance of modern technology. Welsh had no cellphone, no internet, no tv and certainly no Twitter or Facebook account. The authorities tasked with solving Welsh’s murder explained that electronic footprints are the first pieces of evidence they search for in a murder case and usually the most useful. Devoid of such evidence, the case is at a stand still.

Why hasn’t this case made it to the front pages? I took a peek at the front page of CNN and many of the articles involved international affairs, celebrities and politics. Perhaps the name Philip Welsh is not so glamorous. However, the implications of his story should be heard loud and clear: your life is online and everyone can see it. This story reminds me of my post from last week. Unless you want to give up all of your cherished online interactions, your life is unequivocally visible. The police and anyone with enough dedication and hacking skills can access your sensitive information.

What should we do about this dilemma? Our contemporary lifestyle is inextricably tied to the internet, but we cannot simultaneously maintain basic privacy. Do we even care that our lives are no longer private? I would argue that we don’t. 284 million people are using a site where they share their every move (i.e., Twitter) and 1.23 billion people use a site that rests on the basic premise of sharing your identity (i.e., Facebook). The trend is not going away. Just the other day I was asked by my internet company to provide my social security number. My options were either to provide the information on the spot, or fill out a form that cost $25 and required jumping through a bunch of hoops. I gave them my social. Privacy is dead. Don’t worry, though, if you ever get murdered at least your killer will have a better chance at getting caught.

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4 responses to “Privacy Is Dead

  1. I found your post to be relevant to many of the topics I have discussed in some of my classes. People are always upset about how their lives are no longer private, yet they don’t want to give up using Facebook, Twitter, etc. All of the information collected from people using technology can be seen as a negative, but when something goes wrong it can also be very useful. In this case, the police had no way to figure out Philip Welsh’s murder because they simply had no information to build off of. There are a lot of things wrong with the privacy issues in society today, but there are also many things that we can benefit from because of the information out there.

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  2. Year after year we’re told about the dangers of the internet. I would bet that all of us have been told at one point or another not to have a picture holding alcohol on Facebook. Well, at least before we turned 21. Our lives are accessible to all on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and we seem to love it. Because of this, it makes sense that police check Facebook when their investigation begins. Alas, privacy is dead.

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  3. I also read this article and found it very interesting. We are so connected to social media and all of our different technologies that it is now impossible to be anonymous. Even channels that used to be able to ensure anonymity and privacy are now no longer secure. I am eager to learn more about this later in the semester with our privacy readings.

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  4. To a point I think many of us were a little apathetic, but I can see the trend swinging back towards privacy. Look at the rise in Snapchat, the idea of the “impermanent photo” is appealing to many who would like to send a selfie or personal photo but not have a digital record for the rest of history. There are flaws with Snapchat, but its rise reflects a societal shift.

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