Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The Differences Between Private and Secret"

To begin, I must say that I disagree with Eric Schmidt's statement that "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." People should have the right to do what they want online and have their some information be kept secret. Now, this is a broad topic of course and I'm not advocating that online behavior be kept totally a secret (because not ALL online behavior is good, like posting nude pictures of children) but people should be given a choice as to whether or not they want their information tracked and/or broadcasted.

Now, there IS a difference between private and secret. Private means personal and not publicly expressed; confidential (only belonging to ONE particular person). Secret means done, made, or constructed without the knowledge of others. In effect, private means that a person's information is supposed to legally be kept to themselves while "secret" offers a chance for people to eventually find out, and that something is merely being kept hidden for a time being.

I feel that loosening up privacy controls and more open displays of what were once considered private behaviors on the web is an unethical thing to do. Reason being, many people forget that their online behavior can be displayed by millions of people and that doesn't mean that they should be punished for it. Even as I sit here typing this blog response, I am the only person who knows I am doing this (and you will as well when you see the final product), but that doesn't mean the whole world should know that I am currently making a blog post. As open as the Internet is, people reserve the right to keep their cyberspace activities hidden from the public.

According to the article by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Privacy is necessary for the development of varied and meaningful interpersonal relationships. Discussion of the concept [privacy] is complicated by the fact that privacy appears to be something we value to provide a sphere within which we can be free from interference by others." I definitely agree with that statement. Privacy protection should at least be reminded to all users of the Internet and people should have more legitimate ways to control what can or cannot be seen.

Danah Boyd's article, "Making Sense of Provacy and Publicity," leaves readers with an interesting thought that best sums up how people should treat private and public matters on the web.

"Each of you - as designers, as marketers, as parents, as users - needs to think through the implications and ethics of your decisions, of what it means to invade someone's privacy, or how your presumptions about someone's publicity may actually affect them. You are shaping the future. How you handle these challenging issues will affect a generation. Make sure you're creating the future you want to live in."

In the end, we're all responsible for our actions online whether they are private or secret. The best way to sum up my point is that people should be allowed to have their own privacy online whether they want to keep things secretive or not. The Internet is simply a world away from our current one, and in both lives, people should retain the opportunity to keep things to themselves. And to think, I always thought that privacy was one of the beauties of cyberspace.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I think not everyone show know what you are doing in your private domain. In a way I view if you are going to store. People will see you go there but they do not know what are your going there for except the people you tell. I know it is a strange way to view it but makes sense if you think about it.