Preserving Life, Destroying Privacy: PICT and the Elderly
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Issues of privacy are undeniably central moral concerns in pervasive information and communication technology (PICT), as many aspects of individual privacy seem to be unavoidable casualties of the increased ubiquity of such technologies. It appears that many people make this trade-off willingly, as attested by the number of users of Facebook, Google, and other technologies that routinely mine personal data for commercial use. This large and growing population may take it for granted that elderly people experiencing (or perceived as experiencing) increasing physical frailty, decreasing mental competence, and the concomitant reliance on health professionals and other caregivers should be expected to give up a degree of privacy if it means staying in their own homes rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. As the end of life approaches, it may seem to many that privacy is less important than comfort. This chapter examines the relationship between privacy, competency, paternalism, coercion, and the elderly – a group that will likely be among the first to have PICT forced upon them in their own homes, probably by their own adult offspring.
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