by Evelyn Pyburn
Truth be told, you and I have NO RIGHT to privacy.
We have the right to try to protect our privacy, which is inherent in other rights, but if we fail to protect our privacy, it is no crime for others to have the information, unless of course they violated one of our real rights to get it.
And, they can sell that information or use it to attempt to get you to purchase stuff, or persuade you to vote for a specific candidate. None of that is illegal and it has been happening for a couple of centuries, at least. Information is a very valuable commodity – and it is a commodity – just ask movie stars as they fight off the paparazzi.
Declaring a right to privacy for everyone, one that could be legally assured, would be the end of the free flow of information. It would be the end of news media, and the end of even a pretense of open government.
So when people declare that facebook violated their right to privacy, they assert too much. Unless Mark Zuckerberg has pledged not to reveal the information or to use it, facebook users should have no expectation of privacy. And, apparently not only did Zuckerberg never have a contract with anyone to protect their privacy, the contract that people “agree” to in signing onto facebook, specifically gives him permission to use any information they post, for all the world to see.
Actually, it’s a puzzle how facebook comes to be a monopoly. Competition and consumer choice should be spawning many alternatives. There should be companies offering similar services WITH a commitment to privacy for customers – if that is indeed what consumers want.
Monopolies in a free capitalistic society are a rarity, and briefly lived at that. A sustained monopoly requires some ability to coerce the market in order to remain a monopoly – that means they NEED government to help keep competition at bay – otherwise that competition would most assuredly rise up. The hallmark of Capitalism is the lack of government interference. The system’s value is that it allows VOLUNTARY, mutually beneficial exchanges among citizens
So if facebook does not have any coerced market advantage or protections, then the only reason they could sustain a monopoly status would be because most of their customers are happy. That might be more the case than not, since it is apparent there was little consumer objection to the company using its data to help one political campaign. The brouhaha only rose up when data became available to the opposing campaign.
The brouhaha sounds more like politics than any sincere concern about protecting any one’s “right to privacy.”
Poor Mr. Zuckerberg apparently didn’t know that his property rights to all that data only existed if he used it in a politically approved way. He apparently thought he was functioning in a free market. Now he has a real insider’s view as to what government control is all about.
It also seems that both he and a lot of Congressmen are beginning to grasp an understanding of an opportunity to make real hay out of the current controversy. Probably the most salient point in the Congressional hearing was when Congressman Mitch McConnell asked Zuckerberg if he would be willing to help write regulations to control his industry. There seemed to be a moment that a glint appeared in both men’s eyes — when they clearly understood each other —and Zuckerberg said, “You betcha!”
Any regulations that would regulate Zuckerberg, would shackle his competitors, which would surely please Zuckerberg who is no adherent of free markets, and government would love nothing more than to “administer” those regulations, not only to Zuckerberg’s advantage but to their own advancement of power. Government agencies, such as the IRS and DOJ, have amply demonstrated that the government’s eagerness and ability, to censor citizens and opposing political factions, makes Zuckerberg look like a neophyte (which his recent troubles demonstrate he is, when it comes to understanding the ways of the deep swamp.)
Those who clamber for regulations on facebook, should weigh carefully for what they ask. Regulating media is to regulate news, instances of which we have experienced in the past, with but three government-licensed television networks, or “neutrality” regulations that totally intimidated the radio industry for decades.
Exercising any civil liberty requires putting up with the bad in order to access the good. It is our duty as citizens to know enough to be able to wade through the “fake news,” and to rise above propaganda whether it be from Russia or American college professors. Surely, we have learned by now that government is not the solution to any problem in media or communications. Our checks and balances against the chaos of unrestrained information, are free markets, consumer choice, and our own individual ability to be critical thinkers and truth seekers.
And, by the way, if you want to protect your privacy, it is up to you to do it.
It is actually quite outrageous that irresponsible people who willingly post for the public, their most private information, would then demand to be protected by regulations, which put in peril the real rights of their fellow citizens.