Torah Thoughts on Privacy & Technology Stalking!

April 28, 2011

In today’s day and age it seems like people use a screen to not simply get their work done. Rather, we use smartphones or computer monitors to “zone out” or “chill.” Doing so is certainly important—but it should be done in moderation. Unfortunately, we all know people who are consumed with updating their Facebook status or playing Angry Birds to the extent that they don’t learn or consume their time with all the wonderful things that life offers us. Indeed, if one took a moment to contemplate the greater things in life, a person may  realize that from the advanced technological world in which we live in, we can further see the wondrousness of Hashem.

Recently, the media (see here) has been up in arms about the fact that Apple and Google are intensifying privacy concerns by tracking where and when people use their mobile phones. However, while this concern is real and genuine (and I encourage everyone to at least follow this easy step to secure their information on their iPhone) we need to heed the words of Dr. Pentland, director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, who helped pioneer research in this field. Pentland hit the nail on the head when he noted that, “people can get this god’s-eye view of human behavior.”

Here is the director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory admitting that this allows us to appreciate an insight into Hashem’s view of human behavior. As a child we are all told that Hashem is watching over us at all times and knows our very movements, thoughts, and actions (also see my earlier blog post on this topic Google and God). In contemporary times, I believe that Hashem is using technology to show us his greatness. For instance, through the invention of the telephone we witnessed that it is possible for one to talk to another person across continents; and from the smartphone we now see that it’s possible to know the thoughts, health and location of millions of individuals.

And so, we must realize that if companies are accessing this information, the Almighty sure can!!

Our task is to use this technologically advanced world that we live in as an impetus not for spiritual decline—but growth.

The next time we are yapping on our smartphone and are about to  speak about or watch something unbecoming for a Jew, we should remember that it’s not just Fortune 500 companies who will forever have this information on us—but the ultimate Creator as well!

For more on this topic, I encourage all to listen to Rav Mordechai Willig’s shuir titled, Privacy and Shared Information: The Torah Perspective.

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