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Private Vs. Public

Tyler Clementi, a violinist, was a freshman in college. He hadn’t come out yet. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, also 18, told the world for him, streaming a video clip of Tyler kissing another guy. Tyler’s last Facebook status was: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” Tyler jumped into the Hudson River, ending his life on September 22, 2010. Is Dharun Ravi responsible for Tyler’s death? Where do we draw the line for invasion of privacy?

Video-taping and invasion of privacy go hand in hand. There is no distinct boundary between private and public. With television, webcam, Facebook, and Youtube, the line between public and private is blurred. The current generation has grown up online, with computers all around them. Everyone sees celebrities telling their intimate secrets to the world. Those are their role models. They look up to them. If no one can distinguish the line between private and public, who can we rely on to define this fragile line?

The privacy law is defined as the area of law concerned with the protection and preservation of the privacy rights of individuals. The “intrusion of solitude” claim in an invasion of privacy lawsuit applies to an actual physical or electronic penetration of someone’s private home or other personal space. New Jersey’s invasion of privacy laws states it is a fourth-degree crime (penalty is 18 months in prison) to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person’s consent. It is a third degree crime (penalty is one to five years in prison) to transmit or distribute the images. A review of federal and state privacy laws states that common laws provide redress for invasion of privacy (intrusions into places of affairs), public disclosure of privacy facts, especially inaccurate information, and breach of duty of confidentiality. These laws provide money damages and injunctive relief. Does these make up for losing someone to invasion of privacy?

Invasion of privacy laws should be stricter, especially when it comes to dealing with minors and adolescents. If you look up invasion of privacy victims online, nothing comes up. These people have been humiliated, violated, and left feeling hurt in such a way it never leaves. Some of these people kill themselves, like Tyler Clementi, and others live in humiliation and shame the rest of their lives. People are punishing the people who push the people to suicide, but what about the people that live in shame and fear? What about the people whose lives have been destroyed because of someone invaded their privacy? Who should be held liable?

Some people have opposing views to mine. Some say that these people have brought it onto themselves. A principal from Ashland High School has said, “Boys will be boys. If [someone] is acting so openly about being gay, he should expect that kind of treatment.” Being gay is not a choice and Tyler was being filmed in the privacy of his own dorm, but some argue that a dorm is a public space because you are sharing it with someone else. Others will also argue that a law was in place to prohibit any person from video-taping the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view without the consent of the person observed (Part 1 of Article 3 of Chapter 11 of Title 16 of the Official Code of Georgia), but was repealed before the turn of the century. Just because no law exists to punish those who destroy the lives of people by invading their privacy, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any consequence.

Adolescents, at the ages of 13 to 19, are at a point in their lives where their hormones are going crazy and they are susceptible to emotional imbalances. An invasion of privacy causes an adolescent, male or female, to believe their life is over because their reputation has been stripped from them. With Facebook and Youtube, what doesn’t end up on the internet these days whether it be intention or unintentional. Some people don’t even know something was posted about them until there is no turning back. For adolescents, suicide is the third leading cause of death. How many of those kids do you think were tormented by someone who invaded their privacy? In 2007 alone, there were 34,598 reported suicide deaths. How many of those people do you think were tormented by someone who invaded their privacy? Invasion of someone’s privacy is something to think about. It can kill someone and people are only punishing the people responsible after it is too late for the victims. How sad is that?

Cruel gossip and vengeful acts were once only found on the schoolyard or the dorm. Now, these words and these horrible acts can make their way around the world within second via the internet using photos, live videos, and hateful words. One life can be ruined by one playful act that wasn’t so playful after all. You’ve seen the facts, you’ve heard Tyler Clementi’s story. This is real. This is something that will only get worse with the years as technology advances. A New Jersey lawyer who runs the website WiredSafety.com says, “It’s just a matter of when the next suicide is going to hit, when the next attack is going to hit.”



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Bethani said...
Dec. 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm
Something has to be done about this. 
 
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