The word “privacy” is not in the US Constitution, but the Fourth Amendment provides some essential defining elements:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States)
A Funny Feeling
You can add a personal dimension to the definition of privacy. In your online life, have you ever had the feeling that somebody somewhere knows everything about you? If that feeling bothers you, then you’ve had direct experience with privacy violation.
But Who Cares?
Privacy is a fundamental right. It’s the right to be free from the interference of prying eyes. Most would agree that you should have the opportunity to choose the level of privacy you enjoy — or to remain anonymous if you wish.
Where privacy is concerned, this is certain: You own your personal data and any other information that pertains to your life.
Before they monitor you, people need to notify you of their intent and obtain your permission. If you allow them to monitor you, data collectors need permission from you before sharing or selling your data.
Instead of state and corporate universal surveillance, this is better: All your personal data is like health or financial information. Before they collect it, people need your permission and then give you access to all files that have your name on them.
Big Bro is Basically Hacking Your Privacy
It’s a safe bet that your government continuously updates a secret electronic dossier with your name on it. Governments add data from your personal communications to other data you provide from the day of your birth — name, address, phone number, date of birth, ID card data, tax return data, etc. (Citizens in EU countries and in several other countries have certain privacy protections. But virtually every wired nation is an “enhanced” surveillance state, according to the watchdog group Privacy International.)
In the age of mass surveillance, the enemy is easily identified. As he tries to monitor each individual and organization, Big Brother hacks into your privacy. (At the same time, other hackers are trying to get into your personal data that resides in Big Bro’s central files. And remember: Government agents work overtime to weaken software encryption systems, making everyone more vulnerable.)
(Go to privacy protection to start understanding the key to securing your messages.)