Friday, 21 August 2015

Privacy? No Such Thing

While lying awake at 2 AM listening to the rain outside I had a jumble of thoughts mixed up in my head.  A comment I had made on Facebook, buried deep in a multi-layered discussion, had gotten me into trouble.  Yesterday I posted on the issue of Internet spying and someone asked me what my problem was with companies testing their employees' integrity.

It's not the people, or even the companies, that I have an issue with. It's the system.

I dislike a system that has companies forcing their employees to sign agreements full of legalese that they don't truly understand until they get into trouble for an offhand comment on social media.  A system that enables employers to fire workers for writing their opinions on a personal blog that someone found despite their posting under an alias.  A system that governments use to spy on LBGT or other communities that they deem "deviant".

You can say all you want about how terrorists have been stopped using Facebook or criminals arrested after posting stupid videos on YouTube.  Home is home, work stays at the office.  Everyone is entitled to a personal opinion or type of lifestyle, and that opinion or lifestyle should not have any bearing on their work performance - unless of course said opinion or lifestyle advocates or encourages criminal activity.

There is no respect any more.  There is no company loyalty any more.  Few want to have a reasonable discussion; everything now is knee-jerk reacting.

I worked at an office once where someone was fired for merely discussing potential unionization.  At another office, half the experienced employees of one department resigned at the same time when they discovered the company was paying them substantially less than new hires to another department.  A person I knew was forced to sign a two-year contract with his company because the boss overheard a conversation in which it was mentioned that he was unhappy with the job conditions.

It's easy to say that if you want to be truly private, stay off social media or don't discuss controversial topics at office functions.  But electronic spying is so pervasive these days it's hard to escape.  Phones can be bugged, webcams can be controlled remotely, computers can be hacked and information stolen without the user's knowledge.  A "Minority Report" type of world could be next.  It's scary.

At times I think I ought to throw out the computer and move to the country.

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