Is There an Ethical Problem With Privacy?

Written by: Julian Sanders, CEO at PORT.im

Privacy is one of the most basic human rights, right?

But is our privacy being eroded, and are we all so overwhelmed by the details that we’ve given up caring? Privacy is one of the biggest ethical challenges of our time. In a digital age information about us is created by everything we do. It’s like an exhaust that we emit. It follows us wherever we go and records every action we take. Threats to our privacy are everywhere and there are people and organisations that want to know everything about us.

Unlike most other ethical issues, privacy is about our own benefit and vulnerability. It’s about how much the world knows about the intimate details of our lives. Too much information, in the wrong hands, and we are individually at risk of being exploited. It’s easy to think that most of the information we produce either benefits us or is of little consequence. But that is to underestimate the value of knowing about our private lives.

When all this information is pulled together it can tell an organisation a lot about us. Much of the information is in real-time. So businesses can profile us, target us, and interrupt our lives with timely ads and notifications to sway our decisions and prompt their desired actions in us. Most of these organisations are simply trying to ensure we receive relevant ads and services personalised to our needs. They are trusted brands that we invite to assist us. Whether it’s our bank, running app or social media, most services we use can be trusted. But there is a deeper issue, and that is how we as individuals are informed about what organisations will do with our information.

Do we understand the implications of giving consented access to our information? Is it right that we have to read thousands of words of a privacy policy just to understand how our privacy will be affected? Ethically, it feels wrong, yet that’s what we are all faced with every day.

We think there’s a better way, a more ethical way to communicate privacy. We are asking organisations to question whether they need all the legalese and small print in their privacy policies. Can they simplify the essentials and communicate them clearly?

Clearer communication of privacy allows people to quickly understand which brands can be trusted with their data enabling closer relationships and ultimately, more business. More trust between brands and people has to be good and is a great way to create a more ethical world. Take a look at the next privacy policy you are being asked to accept. Is it a fair and ethical way to present their terms to you or is it taking advantage of your lack of time and interest to gain your consent?

Privacy can be better communicated and understood.

We are working to make ethical privacy happen so we can all live in an enlightened society where we are confident that the information we trust to organisations is being used ethically and not to our detriment. You can learn more about our mission at www.port.im.

Read more about PORT.im

Related stories

Several Mac Books on a desk, making for a very chaotic workspace

Search engines: resisting the monopolisation of our digital lives

A sign stating thank you for shopping local

How does shopping locally help the economy?

Sign up today