Can Privacy Exist on the Web?

Earlier this week I wrote on AllFacebook about a piece by Tom Hodgkinson that ultimately accused Facebook of spreading capitalist ideology throughout the world. In writing the piece I began to wonder about the implications of Facebook and privacy. Soon after completing the piece I found an article about the U.S. drafting a plan to allow the government to access any email or web search taking place. Then today Programmable Web published a piece about USASpending.gov’s inherent lack of privacy within their API.

All of these article bring to light the issue of privacy on the web and where the line is drawn. Ultimately, to suggest that there is a clear line on privacy would be ridiculous. It may be better to examine each issue on a case by case basis. Unfortunately I do not have the time to do so and will instead generalize about the topic. If we were to debate the issue in public I would be sure to come more prepared than I am currently in writing this article. Then again I don’t have much of a stance and instead find myself asking a lot of questions.

Is there privacy on the web? There have been reports of large scale surveillance by the government via various communication channels … primarily via telephones. While the telephone companies won’t comment on the issue, the goal of the NSA is to amass as much communication as possible and it appears that it will soon extend to the web.

One of the primary problems with these policies is that it is elected and appointed officials that make privacy decisions for the entire country. While this is the point of a representative democracy, I’m not quite sure that I like the result. In social media, we choose to publish tons of information about ourselves via Twitter and Facebook. There are plenty of things that we prefer to keep private including emails with people that we communicate with on a daily basis.

Will privacy ultimately be decided by the government? What standards have the people set in regards to privacy? Should there be a coalition of people that set forth a general standard on privacy that “the people” support? I don’t have the answers to all these questions but given the rapid growth in technology and the government’s responsibility to make privacy decisions for us, I think there should be some sort of standard set forth by the general public. What do you think?

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