Privacy. Or lack of it, to be specific. This past week, nude photos of Duchess Catherine (formerly Kate Middleton) were published in several French tabloids. The photos were taken from hundreds of meters away using sophisticated photographic equipment to capture a moment meant to be highly private.
Also this week, Mitt Romney was secretly videotaped at a small fundraising event dismissing 47% of the electorate as victims who take advantage of government and the taxation system.
Put aside for a minute what you think of Kate or Mitt, and ask yourself what you BELIEVE about our right to privacy.
Some people say that in the digital surveillance age, you are naive to think that anything is private. Everything outside of your own walls is fair game. But Romney and the Duchess thought that they were operating inside of their own walls. Others argue that we are entering a dangerous age of constant surveillance, and that the government and corporations are gaining too much access to our images, words and thoughts.
I believe that both statements are true: the reality is that there is very little privacy left outside our own walls (and sometimes within them) and that government and corporations have too much access to our private information. But that doesn’t mean that we have to allow it to remain that way. How would your opinions change if the pictures were of your daughter rather than the Royal Family? How would you feel if your private conversation among friends showed up on CNN?
Privacy is a slippery right to nail down; it’s hard to legislate. But most of us know when it has gone too far, and by the time it has gone too far, victims like Mitt and Kate can do little to stuff the cat back into the 24/7 media darkness. Most of us will share our opinions on Kate and Mitt, but few of us will air our beliefs on privacy. If you believe in having a bit of privacy left in your life, speak out when the privacy of others is violated. Privacy will probably never be effectively governed by law, but it’s violation can be preventively discourage by social pressure. When you buy the tabloid, Google the nude photos or email blast the Romney video, you’re advocating for less privacy.
What do you think? Share your comments below.
John Sileo is an award-winning author and keynote speaker on privacy and reputation. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises clients on how to defend their Privacy, Identity and Reputation. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.