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Privacy: The 21st Century Irony

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The recent NSA controversy over phone records of Americans is bringing a debate about privacy and protection from terrorism to the surface. While the debate is many years overdue, the idea of privacy in the 21st century is the definition of irony.

American citizens are appropriately concerned that way too many of our private conversations are likely being stored in some enormous government database reminiscent of the finale of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, we all need to be careful, or at least more aware, of our 21st century lifestyle before we make too much fuss over our privacy.

Again, the idea that the government has access to countless phone records of innocent Americans is a problem. But the problem cannot be based on the need for privacy.

Americans may be able to make a constitutional argument for our privacy, but our real lives show that we do not take our right to privacy very seriously.

Even if every American does not have a Facebook account where they are uploading photos of themselves and telling countless “friends” about the details of their daily lives, millions of them do.

And even if every American doesn’t search for items to purchase online items through a Google search, thereby giving many online companies a distinct list of what they are looking to buy, millions of them do.

And, even if every American doesn’t provide their email address to companies in exchange for discounts or membership benefits, millions of them do.

It seems we are taking a great deal of offense, justifiably, with the government warehousing our personal phone records, but we’re perfectly okay with countless companies owning much more important information about us and trading that valuable data around like currency between other companies.

While 9/11 changed the world and redefined the compromises all of us accept in exchange for safety, the event is not the only reason that privacy in the 21st century has become a true irony in our lives.

Since most Americans of all ages work, live and play on some sort of piece of technology, our privacy is never truly our own.

In fact, if you wanted to truly interact and communicate with current society but keep your life as private as possible, you would need to go through a multitude of intensive steps to maintain real privacy.

There’s a reason that identity theft is so prevalent in our society right now. It’s prevalent because it’s relatively easy and difficult to stop.

My point is that the argument against the government’s blatant overreach of the NSA is valid. But before we get too excited about protecting our privacy, let’s remember we give a tremendous amount of it away without one government official lifting a finger.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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