What is privacy?

I was out walking in my local park today. I couldn’t help noticing that there were less people in the park today compared to 2 days ago. Why? Well the weather wasn’t as nice today, dry but not sunny (between 5.35-6.30pm). Also, I forgot to wear my mask today and didn’t notice this until I was back home. I suddenly realised that I’m back to my ‘normal’ self or routine. Well…what is ‘normal’ or the ‘new norm’? For me, breaking or changing my habits are not ‘normal’ for me. Perhaps, because I’m quite an introvert at heart and enjoy peaceful stroll in quiet parks and quiet spaces with less people around. Also, I tend to put my mobile on silent mode or forget to bring it with me.

So, it’s just me and my mobile on my ‘normal’ walk. Do I want to be traced or tracked or monitored by my mobile or by ‘someone’ capturing my location or interaction with a tree or a passer-by or another nearby walker? Isn’t this an intrusion into my private life or space or sacred space? Sacred because I just want to be left in peace or to be left alone (privacy?) Does the ‘new norm’i.e. when the lockdown is removed, and we regain a sense of normality also means we regain our sense of freedom and privacy? Do I value my privacy above all else or above what the public or others demand? I value my privacy, but I know I don’t have absolute rights.

In the current epidemic the public interests or public health or save our NHS take centre stage above an individual’s right to privacy. The NHS is the hero in saving lives and also other essential services which we ‘normally’ take for granted. What I find upsetting is the uptake and/or the urgency in using technology (tech) for tracing or locating people or contact tracing. Yes, we all want to be back to ‘normal’ and get rid of the virus. Which is more dreadful – the virus or being under surveillance or tracked (without the opt-out)? The virus can kill – if your immune system is weak & you have no access to the needed medical aids and care. With the contact tracing or any tech that collects data about our ‘normal’ life (privacy?), it won’t kill anyone outright, right? It can save lives, so we’re told.

As we know we’re relying on tech to save lives like the use of tech in hospitals etc. Also, like in normal times, we use tech daily and now we rely on tech more than ever in lockdown. More than ever, we also need to check that we’re using tech that does not go beyond one’s safety net (our privacy) or intrude into one’s normal life. This is what privacy is all about, isn’t it? A crisis isn’t ‘normal’. Privacy is sacred in normal times and more so during a crisis.