Our parents had certain rights and liberties that they took for granted, inherited from our grandparents. They have not been passed on to our children. That is an enormous failure of our generation.
Our parents were able to write a private letter. They took that privacy for absolutely granted. Arguably, the paper letter took some time to deliver, but nobody would read it in transit, nor would the letter as such be logged in databases to be used against the people communicating at a later date. The mailman would never be held responsible for the contents of the letter by corporate interests who didn’t like what was being communicated.
Our parents could place a private phonecall, without being wiretapped and eavesdropped on. Their phonecalls were not logged to be used against them at a later date. They took this right and liberty for absolutely granted.
Our parents could communicate freely in private, without corporate and governmental interests stepping in mid-sentence and interrupting with “You have mentioned a forbidden topic. Please refrain from discussing forbidden topics.” (This would happen for some time if links to The Pirate Bay were posted on Facebook, for example.)
They were able to go to the library – on their own feet, admittedly – and search for information. They would have absolute privacy doing so, and took that privacy for granted. Nobody was logging what information they had been searching for to use it against them, nobody was looking at the information they receieved in response to their questions, nor at how our parents browsed, learned, and used that information. Fact is, no agency was logging that our parents had been to the library in the first place.
When our parents mistyped something and corrected themselves, or maybe even changed their mind mid-sentence and decided to not say something, nobody was taking careful notice of what they thought of first but never expressed.
When our parents were reading a newspaper, there was nobody looking over their shoulder to see exactly what newspaper they were reading, what articles they read in that paper, in what order, and for how long. Nor did any agency log what friends our parents contacted after having read a particular article. This was privacy that was taken absolutely and fundamentally for granted in our parents’ generation.
Our parents could walk about the city freely, without having practically every footstep logged by the government. Law enforcement was never able to check exactly where a certain individual had been several years in the past, and whom that person had been speaking to most recently. This was privacy that our parents took for granted.
When our parents were thinking about whom to date, as they were looking over photos and phone numbers, there was nobody logging their partner preferences to be used against them later. When our parents were visiting a travel agency, nobody took careful notes of trips that were never even booked.
When our parents deposited money their own money into a bank, they did not need to show ID first. This was an obvious right – to deposit your money into the bank, into your own account, no questions asked.
When our parents wanted to travel within the country, they did not need to show any other papers than the ticket. This was a right that was taken completely for granted, especially after WW2. Nobody kept careful log of every trip they made, to be used against them later.
When our parents bought a packet of gum, a sandwich, or a pack of beer, that was never logged in giant databases that could be used against them later.
Our children have lost of all these rights and liberties. Every single one. All these rights, which our parents took for granted, are liberties that we have failed to pass on to our children. I firmly believe that this is the worst conceivable failure of our generation, and I think the future will judge us harshly for it.
Privacy remains your own responsibility. So does the privacy of your children.