In recent days there has been a lot of discussion in the news about the recent vote to repeal internet privacy. While it is perhaps shocking that this issue came to a vote and even that the vote passed the repeal, the real concern has do with personal information being sold. One company stated that it intended to allow customers to opt out of having their web browsing info sold but that it would charge customers extra fees in order to keep their information from being released.
The thing that really gets me is that people were apparently under the illusion that their habits on the worldwide web were not already known. Perhaps without a face an entity gathering data seems less “real.” As of now, any time a person fills out a form online, or even looks at certain products on Amazon, their information is out there. Companies have been selling our online habits for years, until now our actual service providers have just been out of the loop.
As I ponder over the issues surrounding net neutrality, internet privacy, and the ever increasing business of marketing, I am reminded of several passages of Scripture.
In Luke 16:15 Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and says: “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Here Jesus tells the Pharisees that making themselves look good in front of people in no way makes them more blameless in the sight of God. God knows when we are doing things for his exaltation and when we are doing things for our own.
In Psalm 44:20-21 we read, “If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,21 would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.”
Here the Psalmist reminds readers that God is aware of our intentions. He knows when we put our trust in him and when we place that trust in false gods.
I am in no way suggesting that everyone uses the internet for bad behavior, but I am suggesting that for those who think their bad behavior on the internet was private, it never really has been. But even if bad behavior never comes to light in this life, God knows our hearts and he sees all we do.
Everyone likes privacy, there is something comforting about it. Privacy makes us feel safe. A fence, a lock on the front door, locks on the car doors, passwords for our bank accounts, pin numbers for our debit cards. Privacy helps us to feel like we are in control. Privacy presents the illusion that no one can see past the surface.
For those who like the idea of being in control and being safe, take comfort knowing that God is always in control. God is our refuge, he is our safe place.
As Christians we should be good witnesses in all we do, even in what we do online. We should be people of integrity, but more than this, we should be faithful servants obedient to the will of God.
We should conduct ourselves in a worthy manner of our calling. God knows our hearts, he sees what no one else does and he recognizes faithfulness as much as he recognizes sinfulness.
I pray that our hearts are so inclined towards living in obedience to God that we would feel like we need not hide anything from the world, and that when the world takes our information and uses it for marketing or for anything else, that we remain steadfast in our convictions as we find comfort in God.
What are your thoughts on these new rulings? How do you see things changing in the web community in the coming months?