Trading privacy for freedom

Michael P. Lynch’s article The Philosophy of privacy: why surveillance reduces us to objects written for The Guardian is an extremely useful online resource for our module. In his article Lynch argues that we ‘trade away’ our privacy for the ability to gain freedom, security and convenience from The Internet. And in many ways, he is not wrong. Barely any of us ever read the Terms and Conditions, we simply tick the box agreeing to comply with them without even knowing what they say. However, in doing so, we are signing away our privacy, allowing the government and even certain firms to gain access to our pictures and information legally.


Lynch also argues that losing our ‘information privacy’ causes us to lose our autonomy also. Decisions are taken away from us, and we therefore lose some sense of freedom. He claims that autonomy is what makes us fully mature adults, hence why we treasure our independence so much. It is for this reason that we must fight to keep all sense of our autonomy, freedom and privacy. These are fundamental tools in making us human.


Should the government have access to our privacy? A huge question of today’s society. One that I fear we shall never come to agreement about. Whilst it is true that they are able to keep us safe through surveillance, I feel that we have a sense of privacy and that our photos should remain our property rather than ‘public property.’

I have chosen Lynch’s article as a useful source as I believe that it helps us see our privacy and autonomy in a different way. Before reading this piece, I never thought that our autonomy could be directly affected by the level of privacy we are allowed to have. Thinking about it now, it makes a lot of sense. When we are children, we have very little privacy and therefore very little independence. As we grow up, we are allowed more and more privacy and we eventually become completely autonomous. But what happens if we are refused our privacy?


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