Is there privacy for people today or are we always in the public eye? Are we always connected or being watched even when we think we are not? The rise and use of cell phones has had an astounding effect on our privacy especially now since all cell phones come standard with a built in camera.
So is there any privacy rights or laws for people if a person captures another person in an embarrassing or compromising situation then posts it to the internet? For example, lets say person A captures person B in an embarrassing or compromising situation. Then person A uploads the video to You tube and it goes viral. Now person A is out in the public eye and did not consent to having themselves broadcasted online. Is this an invasion of privacy?
Lets take for example the shocking story of Danya Kempson who lost control of her car and died after colliding into some trees. A first respondent fire fighter captured her death on video using his personal cell phone. The fire fighter later shared this video with other fire fighters, then an unknown firefighter took the video to a bar and texted it to other patrons. After that, the video went viral. Then months after her death, the parents received a copy of the video via e-mail from an ex-brother-in-law.
According to the iNews article, "The parents are outraged, and are pleading for the video to be taken out of circulation, and that the firefighter in question be punished. The firefighter has been suspended, until the legality has been established."
There are two questions being asked from this incident:
1. Was it illegal for the video to be taken in the first place and shared with other firefighters?
2. Other videos have been taken out in the field by first-responders of all kinds. So is this more of a moral then a legal issue?
The Spalding County Sheriff’s office is looking into whether this violated any internal rules since the taking and distribution of the video did not violate any laws. The family in this incident believe there should be a law in place to prevent this kind of footage from being taken. Currently, there are no laws in place in the U.S. to prevent the taking and distribution of video. There are laws and policies that prevent the distribution of video without a persons consent and most public or private establishments prohibit the taking of video. Since the firefighter has not been questioned into why he took the video another question arises from this example. The question is, what if this video was taken by a person passing by and then spread anonymously? Also, what would drive someone to capture and share a tragic video of another person's death?
Morally I think the firefighter should have thought twice before sharing the video. He could have taken it and then thought about it for a couple of days then deleted the video or ask his superiors if it would be appropriate to share. I think most people react in the moment and want to share events or information with people in their close social circles. Maybe this is just like the example in the book Connected, were in Rockdale County, Georgia, "a norm among the teenagers that sex – and sex of a particular kind, involving multiple partners – was acceptable," (p. 96). So since other first respondent people on the scene of accidents have taken videos of accident victims in the past, then it was socially acceptable for this fire fighter to take a video of this young girl who died in a car accident and share it with other fire fighters.
This now goes back to the other question being asked, "is this an invasion of privacy?" The answer to this is it depends on the society and what people in the society deem as socially acceptable. If there are rules or signs in place which state "no video taping allowed" then it is very clear that taping a video of something or someone is prohibited. If it is out in public, like an auto accident, a crime, or brutality against someone, then in most social circles this can be acceptable and controversial at the same time. Once again the right to the freedom of speech and expression comes into play. It may be o.k. and a person's right to use a cell phone to video tape an auto accident of two cars colliding as evidence of who was at fault, but it maybe controversial to film a dead person who has died in a car accident.
When it comes to privacy, the social network for that particular culture, region or society has to determine if the kind of information being distributed is socially acceptable or an invasion of privacy.