Biblical Advice for the Internet Age IV

August 31, 2011

This is the fourth and final instalment in the series Biblical Advice for the Internet Age. [Previous instalments: I, II and III.]

Advocates of extreme transparency on the internet, who imagine an electronic communication beast that ultimately strips away almost our entire privacy may claim that people behave better when being watched. However, that contention is questionable. It is, in fact, rather unbearable for many. Read the rest of this entry »

Biblical Advice for the Internet Age iii

July 27, 2011

This is the third of four instalments on internet privacy and Biblical values. Last week we discussed how peoples’ professional and even social life suffers from the excess information we put on line, which does not remain private, and suggested some practical measures, inspired by Micah’s prophecy, that would spare people much anguish. Not everybody, however, can simply fix his or her on line profile and re-engineer his or her online identity to be more wholesome, more chaste. Some people suffer their identity irrevocably, as we will see.

Some people land in difficulty because poor taste and poor mores; others because of poor judgement. Some people exhibit smaller or greater moral-ethical failings, and commit crimes, for which they subsequently get arrested. Others get arrested by association, because of the poor, apparently criminal company they keep, but are ultimately freed of all charges, or are arrested through no fault of their own whatsoever – mistakes happen. Courts eventually sort out who is or isn’t guilty, but the court of public opinion doesn’t necessarily keep up with all the updates. Read the rest of this entry »

Biblical Advice for the Internet Age ii

July 21, 2011

In last week’s post, I described how Internet 2.0 – technologies undergirding Facebook, Youtube, ubiquitous personalized search, etc. – has steadily eroded privacy and turned our lives increasingly into that akin to aquarium fishes: every bit of information is quickly becoming public, the homes we live in are almost becoming glass houses. On the one hand, this increased transparency is a democratic dream come true. Many wrongdoers have been exposed because of the electronic trail they left behind. Technology has even empowered ordinary citizens, who can now pick up the electronic trail of their elected leaders’ wrongdoing.

But is there also an “on the other hand,” a dark underbelly to this great feast of transparency? Read the rest of this entry »

Internet Halakha: Should we Expect Privacy?

January 12, 2010

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is making waves [e-week Europe]

having announced that people no longer have an expectation of privacy thanks to increasing uptake of social networking.

Speaking at the Crunchie Awards in San Francisco this weekend, the 25 year-old web entrepreneur said: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.”

Such statements, and the trends Zuckerman describes, are of no little consequences. Dr. Kieron O’Hara of Southampton University points out that

under British law, an individual’s right to privacy is being eroded by the behavior of those who have no qualms about broadcasting every intimate detail of their life online (via social networking sites) because the privacy law is predicated in part upon the concept of a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy.’

(Further reporting on O’Hara here [])

So what is the halakhic expectation of privacy? Read the rest of this entry »