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  • "Modern Americans are so exposed, peered at, inquired about, and spied upon as to be increasingly without privacy — members of a naked society and denizens of a goldfish bowl. "
  • ~ Edward V. Long, U.S. Senator, 1908 – 1972
  • "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of the tribe. "
  • ~ Ayn Rand, Russian-American philosopher and novelist, 1905 – 1982
  • "The right to be alone — the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men. "
  • ~ Louis D. Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1856 – 1941

Insane World

Your phone rings at dinnertime; it’s another marketing call; your email box is crammed with unsolicited junk email; most of the mail in your traditional mailbox was generated by a computer. As marketers become increasingly desperate to cut through the clutter (that they have created), the marketing bombardment will only increase. Technology will be used to invade your privacy on a scale previously unimagined: already, computerized systems are leaving automated phone messages, hidden cameras monitor many of your movements, and government and businesses collect and utilize information they have surreptitiously obtained.

Mini-cameras, mini-tape recorders, see-in-the-dark binoculars and a whole host of other equipment originally developed for the military or specialized markets are now being marketed directly to consumers. As technology moves from the laboratory to the masses, almost everyone will have the ability to audiotape, videotape, or otherwise monitor you.

Living Sanely

Privacy is critical to maintaining sanity; the only way to have control over your life is to allocate your attention according to your own priorities, without constant and unsolicited interruption. Determining who is allowed to contact you lets you decide who gets your attention, a very limited resource. In order to control who contacts you, you must control the information about yourself that others receive.

Information about yourself is data that you create; that information is your property. You should provide personal information only in cases where you are confident that it will not be misused. Be aware of the potential for invasion of your privacy, and deal ruthlessly with those who are trying to steal your attention. You have no obligation to be polite to those who invade your privacy.

In the future, as the use of mini-cameras and other intrusive technology becomes more widespread, it will make sense to be more vigilant — without being paranoid — about protecting your privacy. You may also want to consider political support of measures designed to curb invasions of privacy.


On controlling the flow of information about yourself, especially information that allows others to contact you.

Read Our Forum for Living Sanely In An Insane World

Chapter 19 of 35

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