What ever happened to privacy?

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Do you have any skeletons in your closet? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t-that’s personal-but the government, corporations, employers, parents, strangers or a spouse feel that they have the right to know. They want the dirt.

You may be a rogue agent, but that doesn’t mean someone couldn’t figure that out by the end of the day. Do you e-mail, instant message, text message, have a MySpace account or fill out questionnaires? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, sorry, but anyone who wants to know about you can do so with a couple mouse clicks on a search engine.

Privacy, like summer, isn’t something you don’t miss until it’s gone. Why would you? If no one is asking, why talk about it? Most of your secrets are still yours to keep, but how long would it take for someone to find out all they want about you?

In an MSNBC survey in which 6,500 people responded to the question “What is privacy?” The nearest thing to consensus was the statement left by an anonymous reader: “Privacy is to be left alone.” But in today’s society, it is becoming more and more difficult to accomplish that.

Cell phones present another blow to our daily privacy. Nowadays, people expect to be able to reach you wherever you are, no matter what time it is. Now your personal life is bombarding you at work, and work is melding into your private life.

In addition, cell phone companies won’t allow you the option of screening the calls that come to your phone, so now people you don’t want to talk to have the ability to contact you. I no longer have any say in who interacts with me throughout my day.

Before I moved into my new place, I got on a friend’s MySpace.com account and searched for the profiles of my future roommates. I found a few of them on there and moved in knowing their interests, dislikes and personalities. MySpace profile pages aren’t supposed to be seen by strangers-they’re supposed to be viewed by friends and associates, but that doesn’t mean that’s how it happens.

Sure, maybe it’s a little creepy that I looked them up before I met them, but anyone who has searched a potential date’s account or googled a coworker is guilty of the same crime.

It’s not just identity privacy that’s on the wane, either. Corporations, companies and Big Brother-excuse me, the government-are all looking to get their hands on your credit reports, phone records and travel habits. They want to know where you spend your money and why you’ve spent it. Maybe paranoia is getting the best of me, but I don’t think anyone but me needs to know where my money is spent, to whom I choose to talk or where I travel.

The U.S. Constitution never explicitly states our privacy rights as Americans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means that in a nation where the power is granted to the people, it is our responsibility to maintain our right to be left alone.