Privacy Issue in the Shifting Landscape of Digital Media
The development of digital media impacted the society both positively and negatively. Digital media range from CCTV cameras to huge online databases. Digital technologies allow to send emails and use social networking sites. However, the use of digital media raises privacy concerns, and some people doubt whether they should use social networking sites or even the Internet at all. Different social networking sites developed privacy policies to address the issues related to privacy. However, those initiatives proved to be not significant because privacy and security of personal information remain the greatest concerns of most digital media users. As a result, many users prefer anonymity when using the Internet. Therefore, privacy still matters as an issue in the shifting landscape of digital media.
Privacy can be described as the right of people to be free from surveillance or unjustified personal intrusions. The continued advancement of technology led to the need to clearly define what privacy entails. Different ethical issues related to the privacy of personal information, electronic surveillance, and workplace surveillance were discussed in the last years. As a result, the term information privacy was coined to determine the extent to which a person’s information can be shared with other people (Soma et al. 23). Due to the broad definition of privacy in the current technological era, it might be difficult to understand if privacy still matters in the modern world.
Most people in the today’s world are Internet users, teenagers being the most active of them. For example, in the US, 95% of teenagers use the Internet users, and 85% of teenagers use social media (Marwick and Boyd 1052). However, the fact that people use the Internet or social networking website does not mean that they do not value their privacy. Various forms of digital media provide the ability to share information. This forces adults to be the guardians of teenagers, even though some people think that teenagers do not care about their privacy. Even those who use digital media often try to be as discrete as possible. Clicking on the sharing buttons on social media websites, for example, does not imply that what users share is intended for a wider audience, nor does it mean that they do not care with whom they sharing information. As a result, it can be concluded that people who use the Internet and various forms of digital media still find privacy to be an important issue even in the modern technological era.
Nowadays, privacy entails not only the decision to voluntarily share private data. Certain companies and even governments constantly monitor their employees and citizens. Therefore, the term privacy is relatively broad, which complicates the matter. For example, in the United Kingdom, cameras on the streets conduct the constant surveillance of citizens. Some people may view such surveillance as the breach of their privacy. However, the same CCTV cameras that perform monitoring can be useful when crimes occur. In such cases, felons can be identified using CCTV. However, many people still consider the use of CCTV in surveillance unjustifiable. This means that privacy as an ethical issue, even with the advances in technology, remains topical because people still value their privacy. In his book Loving Big Brother, John E. McGrath views surveillance as the motivator of various TV-shows and movies, and he claims that in certain cases people enjoy surveillance (Watson and Hill 208). Nevertheless, issues such as being spied on by the government or the recording of calls raise concerns in the society, showing that the advances in technology made people aware of the need for privacy.
Due to various concerns regarding the effects that the shifting landscape of digital media has on privacy, governments and social networking websites’ owners try to deal with privacy-related issues. For example, Facebook and Twitter developed privacy policies that users are required to read and agree to during the account creation. Such privacy policies stipulate what these websites do to protect the information of their users. In addition, different laws were adopted in different countries to ensure that the personal information of individuals that is collected and stored in the databases of various governmental and non-governmental institutions is not shared without the consent of those individuals. The institutions that break those laws are often punished by governments.
In conclusion, privacy remains a critical issue even in the shifting landscape of digital media. The use of technology raised awareness of the increased need for privacy among people. Users of the Internet and social networking sites strive to maintain a balance in this regard. On the one hand, they often willingly share personal information via digital media. On the other hand, they want their privacy to remain intact. Digital media users should continue the discussion on their privacy needs to ensure that effective and long-lasting solutions are developed to negate one of the greatest drawbacks of digital media. If governments, social networking websites’ owners, and other stakeholders devise efficient ways of protecting private information, people will be able to enjoy their privacy again.
Marwick, Alice E., and Danah Boyd. Networked Privacy: How Teenagers Negotiate Context in Social Media. SAGE, 2014.
Soma, John, et al. Privacy Law in a Nutshell. West Academic, 2014.
Watson, James, and Anne Hill. Dictionary of Media and Communication Studies. Bloomsbury, 2006.