A quote from our feature complaint: “In Macy’s store I saw a guy lying on the floor of one fitting room and watching whatever the ladies doing in the other room.”

Do we have any privacy? We do have a constitutional right to privacy. We sure have the right to be let alone. But can we exercise this right without being constantly violated?

As private beings living in a huge world, we communicate with other private beings; we interact, exchange information and build relationships. But sometimes we want to maintain our privacy. We also want to be protected from the rest of the world. Security and privacy often create a contradiction. The most talked about example is new airport security procedure. The full-body scanners perform virtual strip searches that see through your clothing and reveal the size and shape of your body. Do you want to expose this intimate image? (Maybe after you lose those 15 pounds). But there is no choice. Security at the price of privacy, or you don’t fly. Frankly, you would prefer an unflattering check rather than being blown up on the airplane. You have to sacrifice some of your discretion. (Remember, you used to think that taking off your shoes was degrading?)

It is safer to stay in your local hood. Hopefully, you are not a celebrity and thus paparazzi-free. You just need to safely commute to work (hopefully, you are lucky enough to have a job). You should be fine at work; you have a right to privacy at workplace, don’t you?

Information on privacy issues.

  • At work you're on company property. That drawer you store your knickknacks in, and the file where you keep financial papers, may be legally searched by your management.
  • Your employer has the right to review your stored voicemail messages.
  • Some midsize and large companies use video surveillance to monitor employee job performance.
  • Since employers normally provide medical insurance, they often have access to your complete medical records.

It seems safer to run your own business and work from home. But you still need to go out and run your errands. Like buying clothes. To buy clothes you need to try them on first. And as we know from the above complaint, fitting rooms are anything but private. Surveillance cameras and two way mirrors in dressing rooms are legal in some states. You are not shoplifting; you just refuse to undress when some strange people are watching. (Maybe after you lose those 15 pounds). Are there any blind spots for the camera, so you can lie down on the bench and put on your clothes? But did we mention old-fashioned holes drilled by security staff in fitting room walls? Did we forget about peeping Tom on the floor?
Information on privacy issues.

  • There was a lawsuit for store security guys watching 2 juvenile girls in a dressing room. The girls were subsequently busted for shoplifting, but the security guards were charged with criminal invasion of privacy.
  • Some peeping Tom concealed his camera in a changing room. However, the dim pervert was unaware that while rigging up his spy-cam he inadvertently took two pictures... of himself. The first two snaps on the camera complete with the time and date provided a perfect lead for detectives.

The safest place is probably your home that is supposed to be your castle. Or is it? Let’s say, you are living in an apartment building. Can you really enjoy your privacy?

Information on privacy issues.

  • A perverted owner of five apartment buildings liked to set up miniature video cameras in his apartments to film people getting naked. The tiny cameras barely seen by the naked eye were installed in light fixtures in the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Okay, a single family house seems to give more privacy. Or is it? In a regular subdivision the houses are pretty close and your next-door neighbor is also the next-window owner. Are you sure, there is no camera or binoculars or telescope attached to your fellow dweller window? Maybe you need to find a house in a very secluded area. This was a good solution until Google maps introduced Street View – the eye level photographs section.

Information on privacy issues.

  • An angry couple sued Google for invasion of privacy as their street was marked with a ‘Private Road’ sign and demanded to remove pictures of their house from the website. The lawsuit became sarcastically memorable, because the couple’s last name was Boring (yes, real last name). The Boring couple has lost the lawsuit. Ironically, fighting for their privacy, these people got really exposed to the media. Chances are that no one would have ever searched for the couple’s home had they not filed this lawsuit.

Fine. If you really care about your privacy, cover your windows with heavy blinds and stay in your castle. But what about the Internet – the first enemy of confidentiality? You are probably cautious enough to avoid all the suspicious sites. But your personal computer – is it truly personal and no one else ever touches it? Are you sure it is never exposed to a high-tech peeping Tom?

Information on privacy issues.

  • Having problems with her laptop, a woman turned to a computer-fixing genius, recommended by her friends. She left the machine with him overnight and got it back not only fixed but also enhanced with two new pieces of software: Log Me In and Web Cam Spy Hacker. She discovered these new features several weeks later, when she noticed that the laptop's light was turning on every time she got near it, and took the machine to another expert. Unfortunately by that time about 20000 pictures of the lady and her boyfriend were uploaded to a remote site. Considering that the laptop mostly resided in the bedroom, not all the pictures were suitable for a Christmas card. The perverted genius was arrested, confessed upgrading other women’s computers with this software (that by the way he wrote himself) and was sent to prison.

So, if you want to keep your privacy - don’t fly, don’t use fitting rooms and public bathrooms, work inside your home with solid blinds and never let your computer out of your sight. Now, are you living alone? What about your family – a private community that should have the highest level of trust? It should, but is it? When we check our kids’ rooms for possible dangerous evidence, they consider it invasion of privacy. But most of us consider it legitimate parenting, so let’s talk only about responsible adults. About our spouses – the chosen ones, the significant others.

Information on privacy issues.

  • Men are secretly audio- and video-taping their own wives in their own houses.
  • Women are doing the same to their husbands.
  • Both are checking each other’s mail.

You privacy is in danger when the trust between you and your (probably soon-to-be-ex) spouse is lost.

Ultimately, it is no such thing as absolute privacy. You better lose those 15 pounds – someone may be watching you.