Let’s Get Rid of Online Privacy

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We all like to believe that actions such as sitting as you are, reading this on your laptop, are private, but of course your actions online are not private. This URL is logged on to your internet history; cookies on websites track your internet habits in order to give you a personalised advert selection. We regularly agree to cookies when entering websites and our browser history is merely a part of using the internet and occasionally the source of pacts between friends that if one of them should die, the other should delete their illicit google searches.

Cookies and history are a part of using the internet and they prove that what we are doing online is not a secret; it is tracked, recorded and exploited by advertises. Our digital record is a finger print, and it can be found on everything we touch.  Everyone gets so up in arms about their own internet privacy – it is the standardised belief that our private lives should stay private, but is it really what we need, especially online?

The thing that probably comes to mind in reaction to the term ‘internet browsing history’ was pornography; the vast amounts of freely available internet porn that is watched by 70% of most 18-25 year olds (with one third of porn watchers being female) and is the worst thing to happen to the human race in this modern century. Porn has been statistically proven to increase infidelity, domestic abuse, rape, statuary rape, loss or disbelief in intimate, loving, monogamous relationships and generally creating an ideal of masculinity as aggressive, forceful , that delights in the pain of others and of a femininity that is passive to men, there to be consumed.

In a 1998 research paper entitled “Violent pornography and the abuse of women: Theory to practice” that appeared in the online journal Violence and Victims, found that in “A survey of women leaving abusive male partners found that 75% were shown pornography and asked or forced to enact scenes from it; 64% had pornography described to them and were asked or force to replicate the acts; 31% had been asked to pose for pornographic pictures, and 81% had been raped. “The study found a strong association between men’s use of violent pornography and the physical abuse of women.” That report was made sixteen years ago; pornography, in order to keep up with an increasingly less discernable clientele, has become more violent towards women. The women who watch porn report feeling objectified by their partners and that the intimacy of a loving sexual relationship had all but disappeared.

Given all these facts is it such a stretch of our own moral code to simply ban pornography right now? We don’t need it, it has only been around since the internet began, and I do believe we would be better without it. But of course if that is a little too prudence for you then how about internet laws that tracked the traffic on porn sites and the government had the power to ban any videos that were violently misogynist before they could do any lasting damage to the already not so strong social understanding that women are people too – that surely can’t be too bad an idea, can it?

The internet has also been a place where the government’s secrets have been aired. Just remember the Wiki Leaks phenomenon of the mid to late 2000s. These hackers wished to expose the gross abuse of human rights that the American government had been a part of during the Iraq war. But within the backlash of the terror of losing one’s online privacy these online vigilante often suffer far worse for exposing injustice that the perpetrator of said injustice do. Bradley Manning, who leaked the information that detailed the torture, rape and murder of Iraqi policemen and soldiers by American soldiers, is in jail for life. The people who ordered these actions and indeed the people who did these horrible things appear to be ‘under investigation’.

Another moment of the releasing of secrets on the internet being seen as a worse crime than the actual crime is with the horrific rape of a girl in Steubenville, Ohio. It is being reported that the hacker is facing ten years in jail; “Lostutter is now facing ten years behind bars if indicted for obtaining tweets and social media posts which revealed the details of the rape as well as for threatening action against the Steubenville rapists and school officials who helped to cover up the crime. Lostutter posted the video to the Steubenville High School football team website, bringing national attention to the case and the cover-up.” This comes just after one of the rapists has been released early because of ‘good behaviour’.  Revealing someone’s secret online, it appears, is far more morally corrupt than brutally raping a 16-year old girl.

Isn’t it time that we gave up the notion of internet privacy and thought of our digital lives as more of a library account; that every time you check something out it is recorded for all to see. After all the notion of personal privacy is rather an illusive concept. We do not live private lives, every time we speak we expose a part of ourselves; each conversation is the external projection of internal thoughts. Therefore if you really are so embarrassed by your dirty internet laundry maybe you should have spent more time keeping it clean.



“About Google Web History” https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/54068?hl=en&ref_topic=3037039

“Porn statistics” http://blog.clinicalcareconsultants.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/porn_stats_2013_covenant_eyes.pdf

“Research on Pornography”  http://www1.umn.edu/aurora/pdf/ResearchOnPornography.pdf

“One Man’s Journey: How I Stopped Watching Porn for One Year and Why I’m Not Going Back” http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/02/one-mans-journey/

“Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/22/iraq-war-logs-military-leaks

“What Bradley Manning Leaked” http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/08/21/what-bradley-manning-leaked/

“Anonymous Hacker Who Exposed the Steubenville Rapists May Get More Prison Time Than Rapists” http://politicalblindspot.com/he-exposed-steubenville-now-what/