This essay seeks to explore privacy on the internet in relation its development, statutes, regulations and actions that state and federal government have put in place to ensure privacy of personal information. In addition, it extends to highlight the need for privacy on the internet, and the benefits for lack of privacy on the internet. Basically, individual privacy is essential, but there are times when one needs to sacrifice his/her privacy.
Privacy is good, but it should be weighed regularly against other benefits. With the growing usage of the internet due to popularity of social network that are remotely accessed, a considerable amounts of personal information are being displayed on different social network websites. This comes even after advice from privacy groups that require internet users to refrain from giving out personal details to “just-met friends” or strangers. The privacy groups highlight consequences such as stalking, spamming and harassment as a result of risky online behavior. Even though, a considerable number of individuals may feel secure behind their gadgets, but in real sense, they have zero-privacy.
The main aspect of online privacy focuses on the extent in which Web site operators collect PII (Personal Identifiable Information) from consumers then distributing it to third parties without their consent. Media has revealed a lot of stories in relation to web site operators’ privacy violation. As such, Clinton administration passed a legislation that protected children from business-oriented web site operators.
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There are a number of state laws that touches on internet privacy. Internet service providers are required by two states, Minnesota and Nevada to keep customer information private prior to customer permission, as such the states prohibits any disclosure of PII. In addition, states such as Delaware and Connecticut require employers to advance notices to their employees before they monitor their internet access or e-mail communications. Moreover, Tennessee and Colorado states require public entities and states to adopt a policy that guide public employees’ email monitoring.
In that connection, sixteen states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia, require, by statute, state portals and government web sites to put in place privacy procedures and policies, or to slot into their web sites machine-readable privacy policies. Therefore, both state and federal governments have set in place measures and actions to ensure that individual information are protected.
Privacy on the internet is being accorded maximum protection than ever before. This is evident by changes in law, as well as in technology. On the other hand, high power encryption is the latest technological development that is privacy-enhancing. The hyper-encryption technologies have made privacy unprecedented. Even if authorities have all the devices such as the NSA and the CIA it is difficult for them to break an encrypted message. Other technologies include access and audit trails, which can record the identity of any person accessing files; they are used to establish whether a third party accessed the information.
Law is on the up-front in protecting privacy in relation to web site operators’ behavior such as the breach of privacy through personal information distribution. Laws have been legislated that limit collection of the information and utilization of such information. In addition, the right of privacy as stipulated in the Fourth Amendment is limited in the sense that it clearly and strongly provides a foundation for acts that are of immense importance to the community such as safety from hackers.
Pros for Privacy on the Internet
In the recent past, people have been very concerned with their privacy on the internet. Many people require internet privacy protection because of the growing incidences of cybercrime and thefts. Having own privacy is the right of everyone. No matter people are in what condition, they also need privacy to protect themselves from being threatened by malicious members. However, there are actually much portals and things that are created by the internet use or even our government in our modern society. These can surely invade our privacy and lead our lives being affected.
Privacy on the internet is necessary because of the increasing number of crimes. There is astronomical number of cybercrimes in the world today. The increase in the number of internet crimes is hinged to the increasing number of major crime syndicates expanding or moving into cyber crime. In countries such as China, Eastern Europe and Brazil, sophisticated criminal networks have put in place enormous infrastructure to support their malicious motives of cyber crime. The criminals engage in this practice due to the accruing advantages, huge rewards as well as very low risk.
The availability of a chunk of personal information on the network provides identity thieves and computer hackers with the necessary opportunity and easier way of stealing the information and data of an internet user. The hackers or thieves will use the information for spying or getting credible information about the user. The hackers can access financial transactions of the user, and as such the user may suffer the loss of losing money or accounts being emptied. This makes it indispensible to ensure that the privacy of internet users is guaranteed.
Through cyber crimes government, organization and individuals, as well, can loss valuable information. For instance, the blow whistler “WikiLeaks” through criminal activities managed to uncover State confidential messages that nearly destroyed diplomatic relations between U.S and other nations. As such, access to personal information can cause what is coined as “privacy harm” on the internet user. As a result, legislations should be strengthened and enhanced in order to offer privacy protection to internet users. Through privacy breach individuals suffer emotional, social and financial risks that can be severe. In addition, it increase the vulnerability of internet users to risks such as those which concerns with their safety and security.
Moreover, it is essential to have privacy on the internet because lack of it will create mistrust. As cases of cybercrime looms individuals will not trust anybody with his/her personal information, leave alone their employers. As such, employers and governments will find it difficult to track individual information. Companies and governments require individual information for tax assessment, insurance coverage among other issues that are necessary for the smooth running of the business, as well as conducting government operations.
Lack of privacy on the internet will act as an impediment to the advances that have been achievement with the technology age. Technology have resulted in effective and efficient communication, e-business, e-learning, online services, social networks and efficient data collection methods. In addition, the recent technological advance of cloud computing will be affected. This is because organizations and customers are much concerned with their security before they make a decision to purchase a product or service or invest in a new process/innovation. As such, absence of privacy can substantially drain the efforts that were beneficial to economic growth and development. It is necessary to ensure privacy on the internet since technology is the driving force for the realization of economic growth and development; this is because one of the indicators of development is the level of technology.
Cons of Privacy on the Internet
Conversely, there exists no privacy in the internet. Many private firms maintain data for businesses and consumers which originate from both private and public sectors, providing the organization with the necessary information to generate mailing lists, address and telephone information as well as the identification numbers about potential customers.
In addition, people who are conscious about their privacy are aware that their daily activities leave trails of their secrets, for instance the use of debit and credit cards as well as national cards tells of things done at different locations. This implies that there are several values that take precedence or trump over privacy. This should not call for privacy disrespect, but recognition of it as a personal value that we all need to respect. Individuals should, therefore, be willing to sacrifice their privacy for individual needs satisfaction.
Recently there is condemn for a decline in individual privacy as displayed by titles such as “the surveillance society” and “privacy is dead.” Technology has resulted in development of increased means of surveillance, such as satellites, cameras, heat censors, email tracing orders and wiretaps. Such developments are a profit to public authorities since they can track the movements of an individual, their messages or goods. This has not only increased attacks on privacy, but an increase in means of defense.
There is a direct relationship between lack of privacy and transparency. When sufficient personal information is available it is easier to understand what an individual is up to, as well as the intentions of an individual. The absence of privacy has nurtured and promoted transparency among internet users. This is because most of internet portals require personal information; the information can reveal the exact details of an internet user. As such, it will limit fraudulent dealings and involvement among internet users.
In practice, it is difficult for an individual to control the set of information that he/she regard as private. This is owed to the fact that any spill over of the information it is out on the wild. The speed in which technology spread information is fast compared to no-technology era. As such, with internet private lives are actually no longer hundred percent private. Research indicates that most of the information that is public domain is not, as a result, of losing control about it, but it is because we are giving them away. The current society is concerned with how the present generation trade valuable and credible information for convenience, and for fun, as well. The loss of privacy on the internet is individual-driven; it is not a predatory on government side or on the corporations’ side.
Data mining is useful for advertising and marketing of company products. As such, the availability of personal information on the internet has been immensely beneficial to a number of companies in designing tailor-made ads for their target customers. As a matter of gain income, company collect, package, use, and sell personal information. The data can be useful to people in terms of tracking down and correcting misinformation, this will help build the reputation of an individual user.
Based on the documented information, there is no privacy on the internet. The absence of privacy is equated to the benefits that accrue from individual information as well as the difficulty in controlling information spill over. Lack of privacy promotes transparency, boosts individual reputation, promotes security and safety, boosts business activities, acts as a means of enhancing defense, as well as a means of satisfying human needs. In addition, the growth in social network use has traded the credibility of personal information with fun, convenience, and experience. People have given out their personal information to “just-met” friends and strangers without due care on the consequences that may arise in the near future. A reveal of private information to the whole world may be detrimental in the future since it may be used by criminals to spy on financial transactions and whereabouts. Though, it maybe difficult to control information flow, it is necessary for internet users to exercise due care and diligence on how they handle private and confidential information. Actions and measures must be put in place to ensure that personal information that is available on the internet is safe and secure. This can be aided by use of a strong antivirus program on the personal computer, as well as control of spamming.