All too often, I hear the word “Facebook” being used as justifications for why people with the connected lifestyle don’t deserve any privacy.
The argument goes along the line of “They publish everything about themselves anyway, there is no way in hell they can mind being wiretapped for the rest.” This is, of course, a complete and dishonest fallacy – and yet I hear it much too often.
People enjoying the connected lifestyle have a very strong sense of privacy – it just happens to be different from those that don’t live their lives online. The sense of the privacy onion – with layers closer to your heart only being shown to your closest group of trusted friends – has varied across the generations, and there’s nothing odd about that. Today, for instance, having a different sexuality than monogamous heterosexuality is no big deal at all that you’d happily publish and even have on your Wikipedia page; one generation ago, however, you kept it close to your heart.
The fallacy is the quite offensive inability to distinguish between voluntarily doing something and being forced to do it. It is the difference between consent and non-consent. Whether somebody thinks there ought to be consent based on his or her frame of reference is completely beside the point.
If I publish information, I do so voluntarily, even if it is information or images that would never have been published a generation ago. If information is taken from me, I get violated, my privacy gets violated.
Too frequently, you hear politicians argue in media that because of how people behave on Facebook, those politicians somehow have a moral right to wiretap everybody to at least the equivalent degree of what some people post voluntarily. This shows a complete lack of understanding not only of the concept of privacy, but also of the concept of consent.
A blogger in Sweden published a rather striking parallel (now offline); “Why do these people not understand the difference between having sex and being raped?”.