When is privacy assumed and why?

by Mad Sweeney 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    On another thread, mrsjones said:

    And before anyone says anything this conversation was not in an email nor was it through personal message, it was not private. It's on my fb newsfeed and any one of my friends can access the conversation.
    It got me to thinking. Are emails assumed to be confidential and private? What about phone calls? PMs via Facebook?
    Why? It seems to me that if you send me a message by whatever form, that information is mine to do what I wish with. I'm not advocating being a jerk and spreading hurtful information, and I'm not saying confidentiality should not be prudently exercised. I'm just trying to pin down what most people think about ownership of information and whether privacy and confidentiality are obligatory, and why. If you send me an email, isn't it mine?
    (Note: JWN PMs are considered private because of the posting guidelines, and this thread isn't to debate that particular rule.)

  • tracylee

    I personally assume that if someone sends an email or PM to ME, that it is intended to be read by only me. But I also don't put anything horribly incriminating in writing, so if I send an email to someone and they plaster it all over the interwebz, whoop dee doo. I make no assumptions of privacy on line, though I try my best to respect others' needs for privacy.

    If someone calls me, I always let them know if I am putting them on speaker phone, as a courtesy. But I assume less privacy with a phone call, since it's very easy to record, or to have someone simply overhear what I am saying (due to the volume level on the phone, for example. Some people's cell phones are so loud I can always hear both sides of the conversation)

  • No Room For George
    No Room For George

    There was a guy working at where I'm working at now, and i trained him. He was flamboyantly gay and had ADHD/OCC to boot. He was one of the worst backstabbers you could ever work with. He got a promotion, and in this new spot, he and another girl's who I also trained before they got promotions, were messing up to the point that it started affecting my own work. So I sent both of them an email essentially telling them they're effing up and to get it together. What was telling about both of their makeups, was the girl actually came over to me and we discussed the matter. The guy took the email, printed it, and took it to my supervisor, and i got called in the office later on. This was some years ago, and I didn't fully grasp the sensitive nature of white collar enviroments. At the time I was used to blue collar where if you have a problem with a guy, you take it to him, and whatever happens, so be it. I remember a female lead here told me later after the incident that you never under any circumstances email anything that inflammatory. Never leave any evidence that can be traced, make sure its verbal so that it doesn't come back to bite you. That feminine dude actually got fired later on down the line by the same supervisor who called me in the office. I wasn't in that day, but I heard he crying, sniffling and snotting, the whole nine. I learned a valuable lesson of that regarding so called confidential information.

    I know it goes without saying, but I'd say in the congregation one should take extra precaution when it comes not letting your left hand know what your right is doing.

  • jgnat

    This comes from my privacy training years ago. Information about a person belongs to them. They have a right to direct how and where it is to be used. This leads to interesting conundrums. If I write about Mrs. Jones, what I write belongs to her.

    There are specific exceptions, for instance, calls to a child abuse hotline, where disclosure would compromise the reporter. Those are kept confidential.

    People have a general sense of privacy in e-mail exchanges. (We won't even get in to how many copies of that e-mail exist, forever, in backups and cyberspace.)

    We passed an important milestone last year. There is now more information about us in cyberspace than we can generate in a lifetime. I'm blaming photos and sound clips.

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    Great insights so far. Any contrary opinions?

    Also, don't forget the "why?" part of the discussion.

  • sd-7

    Well, I believe it was Gene Hackman who said in 'Enemy of the State', "The only privacy you have is the inside of your head." Anything you say, write, post, or text, can potentially be recorded or copied by someone else and made public. That's always a possibility. It's just a matter of who cares enough to bother.

    Like say, if Mrs. sd-7 were to discover my identity and read all of my posts, that would suck. I would expect to be set on fire shortly thereafter. Which is why it's a bad idea to um, put stuff in writing. It's something I still do because, well, I write about lots of stuff in my journal anyway. I think it depends on the circumstances. If you put in writing something abusive, inflammatory, or something that could be construed as harassment, then you lose your privacy because you're not behaving ethically. You keep your privacy so long as you don't break the law. But if you write it or say it to someone else, then it's not truly private anymore. It's sitting with them and they can take it and use it as they wish. I'm not saying that's morally right. But it's how it is.

    If you want to keep it private, then don't say it to anyone else.


  • jgnat

    Privacy is a bigger deal in Europe, and is a right. It comes from the aftermath of Nazi and communist occupation. Governments are specifically restricted on what sorts of information they can collect on people.

    Technology makes it easier, but that does not make it right.

    We expect privacy in our homes. In a recent Scientific American magazine (March 2011), there's an article on the latest technology in megapixel images, "..a landscape gigapixel image of a city could be scrutinized to see into the windows of homes. 'Still, if you were to go to your window, someone in another nearby building or on the street would be able to see you. That's why they make shades...'"

  • tracylee

    LOL, I live in an apartment building with paper thin walls. I don't think I even really know what privacy is. I can hear my next door neighbor take a dump, have sex with (hopefully) his wife, and I know what TV shows and music everyone in my building listens to. I never assume anything I do is private. Of course, I'm used to not having ANY privacy at all, since I was a born-in JW LOL! If it wasn't my own mom and siblings spying on me and digging through my stuff, it was my so-called "friends" or the Elders. Only my thoughts are private.

  • jamiebowers
    Like say, if Mrs. sd-7 were to discover my identity and read all of my posts, that would suck. I would expect to be set on fire shortly thereafter.

    SD-7, I couldn't let that go without an LOL!

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