John Stossel: Privacy, please
A Pennsylvania high school issued laptop computers to students and then remotely activated the laptops' cameras to watch the students when they were away from school.
Privacy is almost a thing of the past.
As I explain on my show this week, I follow the advice of "experts." I buy anti-virus software (today a virus is more likely to steal your credit card and bank info than harm your computer). I sometimes change passwords. But someone still might steal my data.
I resent that websites demand I click "agree" to say that I've read their complex terms and conditions. (I click "agree," but no one reads them.)
But the distinction we care about shouldn't be whether they know my name. The important difference is whether what you do is voluntary.
And there's a good, rational reason we don't worry so much about companies: Even if they get ahold of my embarrassing information, all they can do with it is try to sell us things.
Because of the Internet, I changed my behavior years ago. I try not to email anything too embarrassing. I'm aware that when I surf the Web, someone might watch. And if you find out what I like to do on the weekend, what medications I take or that I have seen a psychotherapist, so what? I'm not ashamed. Losing some privacy is a price I'll pay for progress.
No, not always.
But we don't place an infinite value on privacy. Sometimes we're willing to give up some of it — to friends, doctors, companies with whom we want to do business. What we really value is the freedom to choose when we'll do that and when we'll tell people to butt out.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."
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