The end of privacy

07 Mag The end of privacy

The Emporia Gazette, By Patrick Kelley, May 4, 2009

AFTER many decades of debate, legislation and court rulings, the United States may be nearing a resolution of the question: Do Americans have a right to privacy? But the resolution will not be a firm “Yes” or “No,” but a resounding “Never mind.” Privacy could soon become, like the telegraph and the telex, a relic of the pre-electronic era. It is not a matter of the increasing intrusion of governments, companies and criminals into the most private of our records and conversations — although that is always worth worrying about. The fault is not in the spies, but in ourselves. The trend of electronic communication, from Facebook to texting to sexting to Twitter, is more than a record of the advance of technology and ingenuity. It forms the basis of a massive, voluntary flight from the very concept of individual privacy. Every day, millions of people post their thoughts, idle notions, embarrassing revelations and scurrilous opinions — even images of themselves naked physically or psychically — to electronic friends and strangers around the world.