The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns privacy. Technology is a wonderful invention that makes our lives easier in many ways. However, it is also a tool for evil people to use against us as a family from New Zealand recently discovered.
Nealie and Andrew Barker from Auckland are in the midst of a 14-month-long trip with their children. They recently checked into their Airbnb in Cork, Ireland, and Andrew did what good fathers do – protect their family. He used his IT training in security to scan the Wi-Fi network in the house. He discovered a live feed and eventually found a camera concealed in what looked to be a “smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector.” The family moved to a hotel while they negotiated with Airbnb about getting their money refunded, which they eventually did. They were told that the host was permanently banned by Airbnb. The family is continuing their trip and staying in more Airbnb facilities.
Andrew Barker had the training and the equipment to scan the Wi-Fi network in the house. How many other people are so well prepared? A few months ago I stayed in an Airbnb place in New York City. I did not even stop to think that cameras might be recording us. I was not worried at all about privacy except for the uncovered windows opening out toward stairways and other apartment buildings.
When I began this post I believed that privacy is one of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights, but I discovered that it is not. However, it is an implied right by several amendments.
Although the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly protect privacy, the right is commonly regarded as created by certain provisions, particularly the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures; the First and Fifth include privacy protections in that they focus not on what the government may do but rather on the individual’s freedom to be autonomous.
The privacy of Americans may be protected by the Constitution, but we need to protect ourselves against the infringement of our rights. I believe that anyone who desires privacy in Airbnb facilities, hotels, etc. must accept the responsibility to check their units for cameras or other technology that should not be there. The guy in Cork, Ireland, was probably banking on the fact that most people do not check for cameras, and he came to a rude awakening. I know that I will think twice about safeguarding my privacy from this point forward.