George Orwell’s disturbing vision of a society under total surveillance is
not entirely distant from modern reality. But the means for full invasion
of privacy lie in the hands not of a Big Brother government, but of the millions
of ordinary citizens. Computers track every stroke; a “forward” option beckons
roguishly in each e-mail; high-res cameras peek from each pocket with highspeed
connections eager to dispatch.
Judaism reminds us that human dignity is sacred. A vital element of human dignity
is respect for the privacy of others. Deep within ourselves, we all recognize
this, which is why we are so offended by a government that breathes down the
backs of its citizens and conducts an excess of monitoring.
But how are we to act when we require information—perhaps to protect human
rights or dignity—but recognize that obtaining it conflicts with the same? Does
an employer have a right to read employee e-mails sent during work hours?
Should a mother share private information about her teenage daughter with a
neighbor in the hopes of getting her help? May I share information about a third
party that is indispensable for my friend’s life choices?
This course is eligable for 9 CLE credits (7 1/2 ethics)