Privacy – Is it Important?

A friend of mine has predicted that the government will shortly outlaw the use of $100 bills. The reason? That will force use to use credit cards. A number of stores are becoming ‘credit card only’. That is, if you want to shop here, you must use a credit card. Just how does this affect you. Some would say that it’s a good thing, after all it will reduce theft, and enable you to budget your expenditures more easily.

At this point I would usually add the comment ‘fair enough.’  But is it?

A good definition of privacy from “privacy.com”

Privacy is a fundamental human right that underpins freedom of association, thought and expression, as well as freedom from discrimination. But it’s hard to define. Different countries offer different views, as do individuals. Generally speaking, privacy includes the right: to be free from interference and intrusion.

Have you ever gone on line after a shopping trip and checked your credit card activity? You can learn some interesting things about your life. Things like when and where you shopped, how much you spent, and in some cases, what you bought.

Have you ever wondered why after you bought your tickets to New Orleans to attend the NPA show, ads for hotels, restaurants, and events in the Big Easy suddenly began popping up on your search pages? The information about what you bought and where you are going is golden to potential advertisers.

The argument you hear is “well, JVH, if you have nothing to hide, why do you care that ‘people’ know where you go, what you buy, where you eat. Are you trying to keep something from ‘us’.

Frankly, yes, I am trying to keep something from you. It is none of your business where I go, what I buy, where I eat, how much I spend. I like to keep my life to myself. Private. Maybe I went to get a massage. Maybe the therapist was located in an area some might consider less than perfect. Suddenly JVH is visiting places that might have a less than stellar reputation. Of course no one knows that I have a bad back, or am attempting to get my body back in shape after a bout of illness. It’s none of your business.

The amount of money I have in the bank could be problematic to some. How did I accrue such a large balance. And some of it came in all at once. Hmmmmm What is JVH up to? Where did he get all that money. He must have some sideline we don’t know about. What you don’t know, and is none of your business, is that my great uncle Charlie died and left me a couple of bucks. Keeping that information from you is called ‘privacy.’

Although HIPPA rules restrict what information can be given out by doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals, checking my credit cards and how much I spend on prescriptions can be very revealing. Regular trips to the drug store could indicate a serious health problem but could also indicate that a serious health problem was completely under control. In either case, it’s none of your business.

If I want to protect my privacy by using cash, why shouldn’t I be able to. Granted it isn’t as convenient to merchants and banks if I look askance at a credit card and whip out a roll of 20s, it does keep information private.

Some may want to keep their information private for no other reason than they prefer that the world not know their business. If making it more difficult for the government to enforce laws or for the financial community to do their business makes our lives more private, I say so be it.

It’s your choice. You should be able to make it. Some may not care that their information is broadcast from the rooftops. Super. Just don’t place your preferences on everyone. Unfortunately few care about their privacy until its violated. Then, its too late.


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4 Responses to  Privacy – Is it Important?

  1. Peter Guest says:

    To me its simple:
    If you run a business then, subject to law, you can offer your services any way you want: magic beans, cash only, card only, with all the baggage that carries. Its a deal between you and your customer and they can take it or leave it, it’s up to them.

    However, if you are a public body offering a service that the citizen has a right to use, for payment, then cash, the universal trade token provided by the government must be an option. By all means add cards, bit coins and whatever but never forget that access to these facilities are all controlled by third parties with no automatic right of access for anyone.

  2. Christopher says:

    It’s simple, large bills are disproportionately used in illegal activities. For the same reason, Canada stopped producing $1000 bills years ago. I dont think I have ever paid for something with a $100 bill either. Privacy does not exist in this current version of the world we live in, if you think paying with paper money will somehow shield you from the hundreds of devices watching and listening to you, then take your one small victory, I guess.

  3. JVH says:

    Heh — I guess if you think the privacy war is lost then so be it. JVH

  4. SJH says:

    Privacy isn’t the only thing we are losing when the thought of “cashless society” is considered. There’s lack of compassion and consideration to the elderly population who cannot keep up with all the innovation…we all will be considered elderly at some point and I can assure you that regardless of how technologically savvy you may feel you are now…you will fall behind. We should all hope that we will be blessed to have family that will devote time and resources to assist us until we cannot manage our way around all the technology. And there’s also the fees that are imposed. I recently visited a tourist location that imposed a 3.5% fee for using a debit/credit card. Why should I support the ever dwindling of what is in my bank account on something imposed by this “cashless society”. If I want to pay cash, I simply should be able to.

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