Transparency vs privacy

The laws are in place, corporate/company policies etched in stone, governments pass their legislation and we are left to examine what we have been allowed to keep private. The answer? Our thoughts, as long as we don’t blog them, our dreams, as long as we don’t record them, our emotions, as long as we keep them to ourselves and that? That’s about it.

What are the ramifications? I think it is a bit too early to say. I know I resent muzzling myself, so that my thoughts and opinions are not used against me, somewhere down the road. A small annoyance really. I recently shut down my Facebook account. Not due to Facebook itself, not due to third party advertisers, or spam; I shut it down because too many people had access to my family, my friends and my lifestyle.

Some intellectual midgets thought that by accessing my Facebook, they might be able to “find things to use against me.” Yeah, okay – like I have some kind of nefarious sideline, some dark side hidden away. I don’t partake in criminal activities so my behaviours are pretty much open to anyone who cares to take the time to ask me, rather than Google my name and hunt down information. Oh I’m up there, you can find me through a Google search but it would be sorely disappointing, and exceedingly boring.

I am simply one of the faceless plebes in society. A wee drone, working, maintaining my home, paying my bills; that’s it I’m afraid. That’s all. I don’t belong to any fringe organizations, I don’t hold radical political opinions. Hell, if I am given too much change at a store? I bloody return it. There are no bodies in my backyard although…there are a precious few that would be welcomed, as bodies to fertilize my lawn. 😉

So my company monitors where I go on the internet, has access to my e-mails and quick messages – big deal. Have a time. There’s nothing there, nothing to see – move along. My activities will simply serve as a sleep aid. My blogs were monitored at one point, due to a disgruntled co-worker. I have to say that this pissed me off in lumps but not out of a fear of my own words, rather it was the “rudeness” of it. The sneakiness, if you prefer. Whatever.

Make no mistake; if you are in the job market, the odds are very high that any potential employer will use the internet as an investigative tool. On one hand, it makes loads of sense but on the other hand, at what point does a company’s need-to-know become a violation of your personal life? If I owned a company, I would want to know if drugs or abuse of alcohol is a part of a potential employee’s personal life. I’m in the transport business so drugs and alcohol would constitute a major issue. People are not likely to ‘fess up’ to drug and alcohol use. People tend to be very careless in their social network posts and pics. I covered this in an earlier blog: New World Order – Suck It Up Buttercup Dumb pictures, posted for posterity on the internet.

I’m a Pagan – a radical Thelemite (I don’t like the various organizations representing the belief system and so, I eschew them, preferring to operate as my own star, thank you very much.) To a Judeo-Christian employer or an Islamic employer, my faith could be a stumbling blog. I won’t hide it however; it is who I am and if my beliefs are an issue in any workplace, then, this is not the workplace for me. I am not a closet member of the Stormfront. I’m not a homophobe. I don’t use recreational drugs of any sort. My choice. I rarely drink. I find that as I get older, I don’t really enjoy it anymore. The “day after” seems to last for 72 hours, so what’s the point? 4 hours of acting the fool and then paying for it for 3 days? I figure if I can’t operate sober in a social situation? Then I am a phoney and worse, I miss out on really getting to know people.

So all of this to say, if you value your privacy don’t display your life online. It doesn’t guarantee that you will be insulated from corporate or government intrusions but it can only help maintain a certain amount of personal security. I find young people are the most at risk age group. When you are 17, repercussion is a word that needs to be spell-checked or looked up on – it has no real meaning. Although, I have to say – I’ve seen some really questionable pics and posts from, chronological, adults.

You do have the right to draw the line. Telemarketers, collection agencies, door to door solicitors or proselytizers – none of them have the right to invade your personal space with phone calls or ringing of your doorbell. You have the right to not answer the call, not open the door. It is your home, it is your phone, your cell – you pay for it and therefore it is yours to protect from unwanted intrusions. I used to open my door to kids doing fundraising or anyone else that rang the bell because I felt it was “only polite.” How polite is it for these people to be invading your space with, essentially, begging? I have my charities and I donate when I can; I don’t want some rosy cheeked kid trying to guilt me into helping them get to Europe or wherever. I don’t want to hear the word of some strange god. I don’t want some cheesy magazine using a long held Pagan term as its moniker – The Watchtower. This is my home and I get to decide who has access to it. It has nothing to do with being polite and everything to do with someone’s lack of respect for my privacy, in my own home.

When I’m at work? I understand and tacitly agree, by virtue of my continued employment, that my employer can invade my computer, has access to my files in my desk because, once I walk through that door, I am in the company’s domain. It is not my home. The computer I use is not mine therefore, I have no reasonable expectation of personal privacy. I will NOT however, sign any document that allows the company to look into my religious, political or sexual practices. Yes, I was asked to sign such a document. Apparently, perfectly legal in the States and so our corporate office, with an incredible ignorance of Canadian laws – demanded that Canadian employees also sign the document. 99% of my branch did so, without even reading the damn thing. I refused. Not because I was fearful of what could be discovered – I have no secrets – it was principle. I am Canadian, I am protected by the Charter of Rights and that means that no company has the right to my religious, political or sexual practices. I will do my best for the company, I will go in and give 110% but I will not permit the company access to my personal life. I don’t invade their corporate inner sanctums – I really don’t care what they do, but by the same token, I refuse to allow them access to my personal life.

The government? Well, that’s a whole different ball of wax. Let’s face it – they have access to every little aspect of our lives – what we earn, where we spend our money, how we spend our money – what medical conditions we have, what treatments we’ve received. How many times we’ve been married, who we’ve lived with – where we vacation, what we drive. They have it all. Nothing is personal when it comes to government. This isn’t paranoia – it is simple fact. Most of us simply don’t care. We should, I suppose but there is nothing that can break or shade this window into our lives. It is something with which we must come to terms. You can’t live off the grid – it simply isn’t possible anymore. The government is a permanent resident in your home.

Depressing? Not at all. I figure, if someone thinks I am interesting enough to spy upon? Flattering but incredibly humorous. Why go to all that trouble when all that is required is to, simply, ask?

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