Where Has All the Privacy Gone? THE MINDSET LIST OF NAKED AMERICA 2.0

by Tom McBride

The Mindset List of Naked America 2.0

In 1964 Vance Packard wrote a book about the loss of American privacy—which he called THE NAKED SOCIETY. He was worried about Americans’ vanishing right to be let alone in the face of photography and newspaper stories. Sixty years later few things are more important than the issue of privacy. Is Facebook a social media company or a surveillance company that sells our personal data to the highest bidder? How pervasive is government snooping on its own citizens? Is privacy a Constitutional right guaranteeing the choice to get an abortion, or is it something dreamed up by hippie liberal judges? What are we to make of a society where you can get as much extra cash selling your individual data as you can for selling your plasma? Are we pitching away our privacy just to get our own website page and a few hundred “friends”? Welcome to THE MINDSET LIST OF NAKED AMERICA 2.0. Here’s a quick and informative look at a society where we might all, in a sense, be living in a nudist colony.

1 The founder of privacy is Aristotle, who declared that a distinction between public and private lives is essential for a healthy human existence.

2 In 1896 two distinguished American jurists, in the face of sensational newspaper stories about ordinary people, argued that there should be a legal right to privacy—or the right to be “let alone.”

3 One hundred years later, the distinguished American jurist Antonin Scalia said there is no constitutional right whatever to privacy.

4 In the People’s Republic of China, face-recognition is so precise that one can be fined for jaywalking weeks after a camera has recorded the offense.                                              

5 In the 1960s and 70s the Supreme Court said the right to privacy is a “penumbra” of the American Constitution—implicit in a document that limits government intrusion.

6 In 2022 Justice Clarence Thomas said the Court needs to revisit the “penumbra” doctrine and throw it out.

7 In 1912 the Republican Party met in Chicago partly because they were offered dial telephone, which by bypassing operators, could ensure privacy.

8 About five thousand party phone lines still existed in the United States as late as the 1990s.

9 Before rotary dial phones became common for nearly everywhere (in the 1960s), operators would commonly listen in on conversations and become an excellent source of gossip—a wonderful side benefit.

10 The number of consumer identity thefts in the United States rose from 4.7  to 5.7 million over the past year, with over half of the victims losing more than 500 dollars.

11 Bullying—physical or cyber or emotional—has increasingly become linked to violations of privacy.

12 The great actress, Greta Garbo, is famously supposed to have said she wanted to be alone, when in fact she said she wanted to be left alone.

13 Research has shown that users of social media want more privacy but do little to achieve it.

14 The Terms of Privacy for most organizations are above the reading level of most users.

15 Long before social media and digital communication, secrecy, eavesdropping, and encryption were obsessions of national spy agencies.

16 Organizations increasingly require more complex passwords in order to promote digital protections

17 A challenge to personal privacy: the richest people on earth now control not land or industries but information—and they want to get richer.

18 You can sell your plasma—or our personal data—to earn extra cash.

19 Another challenge to personal privacy: The American First Amendment protecting freedom of speech.

20 If you break up with your partner on social media, don’t be surprised to get ads on your devices about post-relationship self-help books.

21 If you’re on social media and have agreed to divulge your location data, don’t be surprised to get ads on your devices about My Little Pony Mini-Collections (if you live in Idaho) or pressed makeup powder (if you live in Nebraska).

22 Warrantless GPS trackers on cars have been deemed illegal, not as invasions of privacy but as violations of the 4th Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure.

23 To some, Edward Snowden, who revealed vast Federal tracking of citizen data, is the greatest pro-privacy agent since the invention of the password or anti-viral software.

24 Job candidates have had their social media sites checked and sometimes miss being hired as a result.

25 The distinguished jurist Richard Posner has said that the relationship between personal information and economic efficiency is complex but that partial surrender of the former is necessary in order to achieve the latter.

26 The Library of Congress has archived every Twitter post since 2007.

27 Women are more concerned about their digital privacy than men are.

28 Denizens of the Selfie Culture underestimate the dangers to their privacy and their bodies.

29 Every American state has laws against online bullying.

30 Social media bots, of which there are millions, have become more and more human-like and harder to detect.

31 Apple won’t divulge your cookies to others if you forbid it to.

32 AccuWeather got into legal trouble by selling the location data of users.

33 A few of our fellow human beings have sued to get certain things about them expunged from the web forever—this is called “the right to be forgotten.”

34 Long before the internet, there was a presumption of privacy about the interactions of doctors, lawyers, and ministers with their patients, clients, and flock.

35 The four pillars of privacy rest on the right to solitude, intimacy, anonymity, and reserve.

36. The doctrine of privacy has also been extended to personal control of one’s own body—most controversially, abortion as a right to privacy and not an act of infanticide.

37. Vivid examples of places where privacy is non-existent: prisons and hospitals—what the sociologist Erwin Goffman called “total institutions.”

38. It is alleged that non-human animals in zoos suffer from lack of privacy and harm themselves and others.

39. The idea of privacy is varied in its applications, ranging from the right of a shy person not to be called upon in class to the windows of cathedrals being semi-opaque to protect worshipers from eavesdroppers.

40 Top Secret has long been the stock and trade of governments; Trade Secrets the stock and trade of commerce.

41 If you want more privacy on social media, you must attend to Default Settings with care.

42 The paradox of you and me on social media: our profile pages are expressions of our inner selves—but also utterly public.

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