Length: 626 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)
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The privacy of the individual is the most important right. Without privacy, the democratic system that we know would not exist. Privacy is one of the fundamental values on which our country was founded. There are exceptions to privacy rights that are created by the need for defense and security.
When our country was founded, privacy was not an issue. The villages then were small and close. Most people knew their neighbors and what was going on in the community. They did not have drunk drivers, terrorist, or any other threat of changing the way they lived. The transportation that most people had access to were horses. Today there are autos that can be fatal if not controlled. Speed limits and licenses are two examples. The government we have in place maintains and organizes our society.
The elements of control are often viewed as violations of privacy. These elements are meant to protect us from irresponsible people and from hurting themselves. The laws that are in place still give privacy without invading personal lives. Privacy is only violated when people feel they are being violated. Jonathan Franzen writes this example of his feelings about privacy.
“One of my neighbors in the apartment building across the street spends a lot of time at her mirror examining her pores, and I can see her doing it, just as she can undoubtedly see me sometimes. But our respective privacies remain intact as long as neither of us feels seen.”
If people feel comfortable in their surroundings then privacy is not a concern. At other times, people feel violated when they are subject to random searches; this random factor is what other people consider wrong. People feel intruded on when they see a roadblock ahead or a request to see their driver’s license when writing checks. Others are interrupted at dinner by the phone ringing from telemarketers. This selling of information is what the Europeans call data protection. If the data is not kept private, things such as credit card numbers could be stolen over the phone.
The privacy in America will forever be changing as technology changes. Cell phones have been a factor in the way people communicates. Automobiles are equipped with TVs and mobile Internet. Privacy is increased, as people communicate less in person. People can spend an entire day in the car and have complete communication with others. Franzen also has this view about transportation.
“Transportation is largely private: the latest S.U.V.s are the size of living rooms and come with onboard telephones, CD players, and TV screens; behind the tinted windows of one of these high riding, I-see-you-but-you-can’t-see-me mobile Privacy Guard units, a person can be wearing pajamas or a licorice bikini, for all anybody knows or cares”
Privacy in the workplace is also becoming a problem. More employees are being monitored today then ever before and more companies are developing security. Employees don't realize how often electronic monitoring happens in their work place. Some workers do not operate at peak performance due to this type of scrutiny. There are also several benefits. Not only do companies save money from employee theft and vandalism, employees can feel more confident that their coworkers who don't pull their own weight will be terminated.
Home and at work are the places where people spend most of their time. As privacy is continuously be tested, there will be new laws and regulations as to exactly what our privacy rights are. With technology on the fastest growth in history there will also be laws on electronic privacy and the selling of personal information. Public interactions and dealings in business should be subject to some observation but the home should be where the right to privacy is the most important.