In a privacy chat on Twitter yesterday, one question posed to the group was “What was the most important privacy story of 2010?”
While others mentioned online developments such as Facebook privacy breaches making people more aware of privacy issues or federal agencies issuing privacy reports, I had mentioned that I thought Tyler’s Clementi’s suicide was the top or one of the top privacy news stories of 2010. Clementi’s story raised awareness of privacy harm and raised awareness of the stress and discrimination gay students face. Even if the actions of the roommate were not a hate crime – even if it was just stupid immature posting without any uploading of video – it showed the world how lives can be destroyed by privacy violations.
The Clementi suicide didn’t seem to make it into CDT’s poll for top privacy development for 2010, but I continue to think that the top privacy stories are those that impact people’s lives offline — such as the Clementi tragedy, the outrageous TSA aggressive patdowns, government surveilling peaceful environmental protesters and treating them as terrorists, or the courts starting to rule that police cannot use GPS surveillance without a warrant.
The internet is important, undoubtedly. But as hard as it might be for some people, we could live without Facebook and social media. We could live with being tracked online by advertisers. We could – gasp – even live without the internet. The really serious concerns, I think, are the ones that affect our offline privacy.
But what do you think is the top privacy story of 2010 or the top privacy development? You can cast your vote on CDT’s poll or use the Comments section below to share your thoughts.