Privacy


Let’s talk about privacy and all its relative definitions.

The law says that everyone has a “reasonable” expectation of privacy. That’s fine, until one tries to determine what “reasonable” actually means.

Does it mean that if one is overheard while speaking that there is no “reasonable” expectation? Probably, if one is in a public place. If, however, one is in their home and someone has installed a listening device, that’s probably going to be considered an invasion of privacy. Obviously, an individual should take care to speak of confidential matters only if they are certain they cannot be eavesdropped upon.

Medical privacy has been taken to ridiculous extremes. There is a local clinic which assigns numbers to patients in order to avoid calling their names in a crowded waiting room. It’s kind of like picking up your fast food order. “Now serving number eight!” Very strange. I don’t care if someone knows I’m at the lab for a blood test or x-ray or whatever – and likely no one cares if I’m there, or if anyone is there at all.

Seriously, it’s not like the disembodied voice is crying to the heavens: “NOW HEAR THIS! We want to see John Smith, back here in the lab, pronto – he’s being tested for _________ [insert choice of STD].” C’mon people, if you’re that paranoid, go live in a cave or something.

What if you’re on a computer, not your own, and you save your password or forget to log out? If the next person who comes along downloads your bank information or looks at your browsing history, is that an invasion of privacy? More than likely, it’s simple stupidity on your part; one of those dumb mistakes that can have lasting repercussions.

Suppose an individual has an account on which his spouse pays the bill, each and every month, but her name is not on the account. It’s odd how a customer service rep will be more than happy to allow the spouse to pay the bill, but will absolutely refuse to tell her if the previous month’s bill has been paid. Even that silly scenario is considered a privacy issue.

What about children and privacy? Are they or when are they entitled to privacy? Of course, like any other human being, a child or teen is entitled to privacy to take care of their bodily functions and grooming duties; they are entitled to be left well enough alone for and at certain times. Should they be allowed full adult privileges regarding privacy?

No.

Children who allowed on the Internet should be required to have not only parental permission, but parental keeping of the passwords – all passwords. Teens can be trusted a bit more, especially if or until they abuse the privilege. Having an Internet connection is indeed a privilege – not all have this, it isn’t something which is necessary to life, like food, clothing, and shelter.

If a teen abuses his privilege of being online by, for example, viewing and sending porn, making threats, using foul language, etc., he has abandoned all ground rules. No more Internet. If he persists, no more computer at all.

Is this wrong? Has his privacy been invaded by either monitoring of his activities or denying them outright? Of course not – a child should be taught to value and respond to parental authority and when he blows that trust, there are consequences. Especially when he’s been given chance upon chance to either refrain or to correct the situation.

By the same token, a parent should be able to monitor who a teen calls or emails or even what is said – if those things pose a danger, either physical or emotional, but also if trust has been broken.

Most teens don’t “get it” – and most shouldn’t have to. But those few who think they’re above the rules, or even above the law, must face the consequences. And even those adults who disagree, well, they’re a big part of the problem with families and with society as a whole.

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