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October 2013 SAT: Do we place too little value on privacy?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss one of the writing prompts from the October 2013 SAT. This is the entire question from the College Board:

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

Privacy was once valued and protected. Diaries came with locks to keep the writer’s privately recorded thoughts from being read by others. Public telephones were enclosed in booths so that conversations would not be overheard. But now people feel free to post information about themselves on social networking Web sites and carry on cell phone conversations in public places. We would be much better off if we valued privacy—our own and that of others—far more highly than we do.


Do we place too little value on privacy? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

If you want to say, “yes, we place too little value:”

1.  You can talk about the NSA and how government knowledge of information could hurt democracy/rights. If you’ve read 1984, this would be a great time to bring it up.

2.  Discuss how making ourselves publicly available on the internet can hurt future career ambitions. Bring up examples you’ve heard in the news or from friends/family.

3. You can discuss how the lack of privacy hurts people’s family relationships. Maybe discuss a time when you lost a friend because of something you revealed on the Internet.

If you want to say, “no, we don’t:”

1. Discuss why a more interconnected world is better. You can bring up examples of suicide/crime prevention efforts that use the Internet for success.

2. Discuss how major forms of privacy are still in place. The question is “do we” not “should we not.” Talk about the outcry over privacy settings on Facebook and leaking data as examples that we still do care.

3. You can also use the NSA example from above here to show how upset people were over the fact their privacy was stolen.

We welcome you to write a response and submit it to us for editing! Just email us at [email protected] Any other examples that you thought of? Comment below!