In Ontario v. Quon, Justice Scalia encouraged legislature to consider the difference in privacy expectations between laptops and cellphones and to do so quickly, considering law’s seemingly futile rat race against technology. That brought us to the question that spurred The Gavin Project: what’s more private – our cellphones, email accounts or Facebook messages, and what particular tidbits and facets of our personality and will seep through each of the media we so depend on?
Who is Gavin? It depends where you look.
According to Google’s search engine, Gavin was born and raised in his hometown Townville where he lived his entire life. His mother is Margaret Project and his father is Richard Project. He has a terrier named Jake. At 18 years old, Gavin was publicly honored in his Townsville newspaper as having graduated first in his class. In high school, Gavin participated in music, fine arts and political organizations. He hung out with friends at parks or local restaurants and enjoyed nerding out.
But a simple Google search won’t reveal the extent of Gavin’s romantic encounters, his music tastes, grades and questionably legal activity. Each of Gavin’s technological media that most of society would regard as private – his cell phone, Facebook account, and Gmail account – exposed different aspects of Gavin’s private life. His Gmail said he liked the Decembrists. His cellphone said he liked Avril Lavigne.
If in order to have privacy protection under our legal system we need to demonstrate a subjective expectation of privacy society is willing to recognize, our polled public showed that society was willing to protect each of these different media, and as such The Gavin Project consensually violated one man’s privacy. We created dossiers of each of our different Gavins, examining what we could learn about him through each of the media. Ultimately, each of the media revealed information many would consider personal and private.
Perhaps the more philosophical question should be where is the real Gavin? Is he most himself on Facebook, Gmail, or on his cellphone? We encourage you to decide for yourself as you read and partake in the gross privacy violation that is The Gavin Project. We can judge for ourselves which privacy violation is most revealing and disturbing for Gavin and in that way help answer Scalia’s normative question of which technological venues should require the most protection by deciding which venues we, society, are most willing to protect.
Jeonghyun Kim – Class of 2011
Julie Shain – Class of 2013
Matthew Everts – Class of 2013
Michael Clemente – Class of 2011
Sebastian Park – Class of 2013
Zachary Maher – Class of 2013