Legal Issue Opinions

Privacy, it’s been nice knowing you…

by Yana A. St. Clair, Esq.

With the world up in turmoil, the future of privacy is looking grim.

Let me first preface the following with the disclaimer that this issue’s article will be a bit different from the norm, but then again, it’s pretty obvious that a norm, with respect to pretty much everything, no longer exists. So, dear readers, dear friends, How are you? From the bottom of my heart, I hope you’re managing and finding a way to thrive, in these bizarre and really, indescribable times.

In just a couple of months life as we know it has been flipped completely upside down, or so it feels. A pandemic is upon us, and while we may spend countless hours, days, weeks, now months… contemplating all the whys, hows and whats surrounding this global phenomenon, at the end of the day none of those questions or answers guide us to a functional resolution, and we are left with the one and only certainty: that the world as we knew it, will never be the same. In recent months I’ve gained a great appreciation for the concept of certainty, or more so I suppose a realization that UNcertainty can be traumatic, and downright debilitating.

Uncertainty has permeated into every aspect of our lives, leaving us virtually paralyzed. Mere months ago, we had plans, and schedules, and calendars to abide by and then, just like that, right before our eyes, life seems to have been canceled, or at least postponed. With each passing day, week, month, people are growing increasingly agitated, strained, and just overall emotionally worn out. We seem to have reached a threshold where many are willing to do just about anything to get back to normal, or at least feel some semblance of security that things might get back on track. In the midst of all this, much to my chagrin, our beloved and prized notion of privacy seems to be the first victim that some are all too willing to throw right out the window.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 ordeal, nations and local municipalities all over the world have been scrambling to come up with a solution, or at least a means of curtailing the spread of the novel virus. In the process it seems that what we would normally consider gut cringing government surveillance, has become not only completely acceptable to many, but more so embraced and encouraged. All around the globe officials have been implementing or backing mobile apps which would track an individual who may be infected with the virus, and generating geolocation information, including where the person goes and who they meet with, and centrally storing all of this data.

Essentially what this means is that your phone is now officially a tracking device of your every move, and every interaction. Now to those of us engaged in the field of privacy it may have already been obvious that our mobile devices can easily be used for such means, but now thanks to coronavirus, it has become a publicly known fact.

What I personally find disturbing about all this, albeit understandable I suppose to a degree, under the circumstances, is that this doesn’t really seem to bother most people.

Millions worldwide have voluntarily downloaded these tracking apps and are happy to have big brother follow their every move, in hope that they will be alerted if they come dangerously close to an infectious “hot spot.” All around the globe, the little-known profession “contact tracing” is now exploding. Such individuals are essentially employed to trail people infected with the virus and tasked with tracking down a certain number of individuals, often dictated by a quota, with whom the infected person has come into contact. Then come the second and third rounds of trailing, tracking, quarantining, and well, you get the picture..

While in some countries the tracking apps are downloaded on a voluntary basis, in many individuals don’t really have a choice. Either way, what has become apparent to all is that the government can track our every move, were it so inclined, as long as our essential tech gadgets are on our person. Now while we certainly hope that this all-out disregard for any remnants of personal privacy is in effect only because of, and for the duration of, this unprecedented ordeal, that is yet to be determined. We are functioning under the presumption that once the world goes back to normal, we will regain these rights, however we are now constantly being told that we need to brace ourselves for a new normal. I suppose all we can hope for at this point is that in the new normal we will still have rights…


Yana is an American attorney licensed to practice in all State and Federal courts of California. Yana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science specializing in International Relations from UCLA, the Degree of Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Ashford University. Since the beginning of her undergraduate studies, Yana has been involved in various aspects of the field of Electrical Engineering, where she employs her business and legal knowledge to consulting and advising businesses and individuals on relevant topics of concern. Yana also serves as Editor for PACWorld magazine, having been with the publication since its inception. As an attorney, Yana specializes in criminal defense, where she devotes her talents and expertise to fighting for her clients’ rights and freedom.