Bush Family Jewels Leaked: The Internet and Privacy

Last week, a hacker named Guccifer leaked the contents of Bush family email communications to the internet. Notably, the content of the leak, which originated from 2011-2012, included continuity plans regarding the death of former President George H.W. Bush, former President George W. Bush’s amateur art, personal family photos, and a book containing the family’s household addresses.

With the hack of the Bush Family accounts, which contain the family’s most private and intimate moments, is hacking the new norm for the exposing, exhibition, and overall extortion of subjects because one reviles them?

Firstly, we need to understand what motivates people to do this.

One explanation for why this may be so is because our society has evolved to a society that is asking for more openness, transparency, and the right to know about their public figures. This demand for private information, unlike in  the years before the creation of the internet 2.0 in which this type of information was harder to collect, has sky rocketed because the public feels it is entitled to know what their politicians, celebrities, and other public figures are doing in their personal time.

Of course, with the creation of social media, people also feel entitled to snoop and gather information about private individuals such as their friends, family members, and co-workers. With how fast one can get previously sacred and protected information with the click of the mouse, I believe people feel the need to jump the gun, go around privacy, and expect to right to know about everything.

Think of the social problems that have bled into the real world from the internet such as cyber bullying and so-called “girlfriend revenge” websites. With the hacking of the email accounts of the Bush family, it seems that the next trend will be other families, which will cause some people to anxiety about their internet privacy and therefore they will utilize the internet less due to this insecurity.

This creates a huge problem. As “netizens” of the internet, we ask for openness and transparency about interconnected world, but is it right for us to go against openness and transparency in order to obtain the information we demand? The hacker surely collected and released the information to embarrass the Bush family, which has inevitably has gone viral, but what if the hacker had targeted your family and release the names, addresses, photographs, and communications of your family?

What do you think? Is one’s malicious hatred of a figure, family, or other corporate organization justifiable enough to infringe on their privacy?