DEATH OF PRIVACY 10
PrivacyThreat of Modern Technologies
Inthisinformationage,itis possiblethatsomebodysomewherecanaccessones’ email, rummagethrough messagesin electronicdevice,secretlyscanthesitesvisitedon theinternet andpossiblyfindout whatmaterialbeingread(DeVries,2013).In thesameway,youmight be under surveillancewhenyouvisityour popularstore,andsomebodymight eventrackyouby insertinga chipin your skinclothes(Solove,2004). With theavailabledigital devices,someonemight be ableto glancethrough your billsin your mobilephonesorevenpurchasesmadethrough thecreditcard.Technology has extremelyrevolutionizedlifeon theplanetandhas impactedman’slifepositivelyin manyways.Nonetheless,thesebenefitshavecomeat a cost,one of which isthe lossof user privacy.Governmentandprivateentitieshavecapabilityto watcheverything that wedowithout our consent(Froomkin,2012). Itcould be your bossat theworkplace, a policeofficer,a spouse,a criminalora hacker orevenmarketingfirm, butwhoeverthismight be, theycan monitoryouin a wayu would neverhavewantedanybody to seeyou.In theinformationera,thisis tantamountto catchingyoustark naked.Thispaperwill explorehowtechnological changeshaveimpactedon theprivacyof 21st centuryglobal citizensandhowindividualshaveattemptedto fightagainst theincreasinglossof privacy.
Themoderntechnologies havetotallybrokentheboundariesthat are consideredhealthyinteractingwith otherpeople.Thedigital footprintyouleavewhileon theinternet can be usedto reconstructwhereyouare andwhoyoulike.Weare livingin a timewhenitis extremelydifficultto safeguard our privacy(Solove,2004). Arecentlongitudinal surveyin theUnited States indicatedthatmanyAmerican are readyandwillingto altertheir behaviorin a bidto protecttheir privacy.Surprisingly majorityof American are willingto revealtheir personalinformationin orderto accessorparticipatein variousactivities(Froomkin,2012).
Evenso,manypeoplerecognizethefactthattheir privacymattersandthatitmight be verycostlyto allowa breachof privacy.Privacyhas beenan obscureconceptbecausethere are manysubjectstiedto it.There are manyactivitiesthat constituteprivacylossorviolationof privacy(Froomkin,2012). Theseinclude:Government actof creatinga database with civilianscellphonenumberssothatitis easyforofficersto eavesdropprivatecommunication,unmaskingof sourcesof informationby skillfulbloggers on theinternet, contractingprivateinvestigatorsto spyon theworkforce, Use of camera at theworkplace andwiretapping (DeVries,2013).
Ina surveyconductedby NBC in 2013 seekingto establishhw Americans defineprivacyfoundthatmanypeoplewerestrugglingto definewhatis privacy.Nonetheless,themostapplicabledefinitionwidelyacceptedby manypeoplewasofferedby an anonymousreaderwhostates“privacyis to be leftalone"(DeVries,2013). Thispapershall employthisdefinitionto exemplifyhowmoderntechnologies suchas surveillancecameras, Internetcookies,satellitescompromiseour privacy,andour lackof concernhas not helpedto solvethisconundrum.
Lackof Care as Cause of Privacy loss
Inanordinarytradetransaction,consumersexchangemoneyforcommoditiesandservices.Thebenefitsandcostsare apparentto thepartiesin thetransactionbutwhenyouconsidertheelementof privacyin thedealitbecomesimpossibleto conducta benefit-cost analysis(DeVries,2013). There are nolong-termbenefitsof surrenderingone’spersonalinformation,becauseyoumay neverknowhowtheotherpartwill usetheinformationacquired.Butmanypeoplehaveexhibitedthattheyare in nopositionto makethe intelligentchoicewhenitcomesto privacy(Froomkin,2012). Evenwhenwerealizethatwemight incursomefuturecostsas a consequenceof tradingour privacyforvariousthings,there is a generallackof focuson suchmatters.Forexamplewhenwegiveout our cellphonenumberto a storeclerk–something that manypeoplewithout raisinganyquestion-wemay endsparking a seriesof eventssuchas helpingsuch a personacquireddata pointwhich may besoldagain(Solove,2004).
Inthatway,onemay not be in a positionto avoidfutureprivacyattackswhich might emanatefrom differentquarters.In factanypersonwith abilityto purchasethecellphonenumberthatyour surrenderto your storeclerkmay wagean attackonyour privacy.Morespecifically,itis a commonphenomenonto findspanmessageson theelectronicmailof manypeople.Eventhoughthismay gounnoticedto manypeople,itis sureindicationthatatone pointin timeyousurrenderedyour e-mail to a wrongsite(DeVries,2013).
Whileall thisinformationis not newto manypeople,itis not a wonderthatweendrepeatingthesamemistakeoverandoveragainuntil thedaythatdisasterstrikes.Theaforementionedprivacythreatsfrontedby moderntechnologies can be avoidedby beingmeticulousandemployingvariousdevicesandsoftware that helpin safeguarding our personalinformationanddata. Butat theoutsetthere are otherprivacythreatsthat are undoubtedlybeyond thecontrolof anordinarycivilian(Solove,2004). Thereis verylittlethatindividualscan doto avoidthespying eyesof thefederalandstategovernment,internet cookies,workplace surveillance,andelectroniccommunicationmonitoring andonline tracking. N thispartweshall considertwo of themostprivacythreateningactivitiessupportedby moderntechnologies (DeVries,2013).
Itis a well-knownfactthatUnited Statesanditsfriends maintain notablespyingapparatusgloballyhaving the ability to capture all forms of electronic communication.Networkof this kindissupportedby a systemof modernformof technologies. Voiceprintrecognitionhas madeiteasytoknow ifanyof the callers ison a watchlist.Ifon thewatchlist,therecordingsare then routed to a humanbeinginorder to bereview(EYGM Inc, 2014). Inadditionmessagessuchas electronicmailaswell asfaxes can be runthrough adictionary programwhich enables messagesto be flaggedwithan attention-grabbingthepatternorreferencesof the words.Asmancontinuesto makemassivestridesin thefieldof artificialintelligence,suchprogramsare likelyto becomeextremelycomplex.Meanwhile,breakthroughsin voicerecognitiontechnologies that havethe capabilityof speechtranslation intotextwillsignificantlychangethetelephonesurveillanceto other formsof textconundrum.Once suchtechnologies convertconversationsinto text,theNSA can be in a positionto measureits weightinreference to semanticforests(Froomkin, 2012).
Itis apparentthatthegovernmenthas givenagenciessuch as NSA powersto conductsurveillancein anypartof theworldas theofficersin thedepartmentdeemnecessaryandifandwhenthere is a securitythreat,whetherreal,perceivedorimagined.NotonlyhavetheUSagencies dealing communicationintelligencereaffirmed theneedto accessall thecommunicationsin theglobe,buthavealsotakenmassivestridesin thelastone decade to seeto itthattheygetit(Solove, 2004).TheNational Security Agency has installed“sniffer” software to enableitconductsurveillanceandgathertrafficfrommajorinternet exchangepoints.TheCommunication Assistance forLaw Enforcement Act of 1994makesitmandatoryforallcommunicationsnetworksto be carefully engineeredwith the aim of enabling lawfulwiretaps (Solove,2004).Eventhoughdomesticwiretapping is illegalin theU.S without a courtorder,intelligenceagenciesandlawenforcementdepartmentsaregiven a chance of warrant application.Itis importantto notethata singlewiretap can affectas manyas one hundred phoneslinesandup to 100, 000 phoneconversations.Asthenumberof wiretapscontinuesto increasesois thenumberof peopleintheUS subjectto legaleavesdropping (Froomkin, 2012).
WWW(WorldWide Web) isrightlydistinguishedas a rich source of informationaccessibleby everyone inanypartof theglobeprovidedtheyhavean internetconnection.Nonethelessthefundamentalaspectthat makesitsuchpowerful informationtool-flexibilityin browsing, unregulatednature,software aswell as theunderlying protocolanditsduty as the largestchat roomacross the world,shoppingmalland library-are thesamefeaturesthat maketheWorldWide Web asa good ground for the purpose of obtaining privatedataregarding internet surfers (Froomkin, 2012).It is clear that, the more one depends on the internet for readingand shopping behavior, the higher chances for their data to becaptured based on their interest and this is in turn made to be partof their private profiles.
Themainlevel of surveillanceto the usersisbasedon their notable popularbrowsers aswell asfunctionsautomatically (Solove, 2004). Thismeansthatclickingthelinkmakesa browser automaticallyto indicate the page being referred to the new site.If one enters their name and email address in such communicationsoftware,theirpersonaldetailsshall be disclosedin equalmeasure.Unfortunately,itis hard to turn off such featuresas theyare partof hypertext transfersprotocol,theonlyavailableremedyis deletingone’s email addressandnamefrom thesoftware (Froomkin, 2012). Theotheroptionis beyond thereachof ordinarycitizensbecauseitrequiresdeployment of privacyenhancingtoolto hide personaldetails.
Thedefault settings on browsers-Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorerand Mozilla Firefox , the most notable browsers allows creation andreading of “cookies” on websites. The cookies are a way in whichwebsites can be able to write data on the hard drive of the user. (Solove, 2004). Although this seems to favor the user as they do nothave to retype passwords or key words while browsing, it enables theweb creators and designers to fully customize pages in the web withthe aim of matching the tastes of users. However, it is worth notingthat, this process is mainly invisible to the user, and in caseswhere this is visible, majority of readers can hardly understand itsince they are mainly non-readable. To make it more frightening tothe users, there is the possibility of sharing privacy cookiesbetween websites. This in turn allow website designers to have aclear information of the needs of the visitors, as well as what theymay have shared with the other sites. When brought together, theseprograms and systems have the ability of revealing commercial andpersonal information regarding the users without their consent(Solove, 2004). To compound this problem, what basically appears asa single page on a particular browser may simply be made of severalparts which originate from several sources (servers), thus making itpossible to embed web page which is practically invisible to theuser. This in turn offers a room for the web creators to set room forcookies for easy monitoring.(Froomkin, 2012). Worse still, it isimportant for users to note that, cookies are just a minor part asfar more superior and intrusive features are now being easilyintegrated to browsers as well as other software used while on theinternet such as those recording each key stroke made by the user.
Fightagainst Loss of Privacy
Manypeoplehavebeentryingto fightagainst lossof privacyby installinga privacyenhancingtechnologies in their systems.Thesesophisticateddevicesare embeddedinthe softwareaimed at protecting personal identity through purging the datagathering process which may positively identify individuals(Solove, 2004). Apartfrom Privacy enhancingtechnologies there are numerousrelatedtechnologies that individualscan applyonce faced by bodies which do not respect privacy. Since theinceptionofthe internetandsocialmedia,privacyissueshavebeenincreasingin importance,andprivacyrightshavetakencenterstagein thisinformationage.Ensuringour privacyrightsare not violatedthrough theuseof variousformsof electronicmediahas beena difficulttask(Solove, 2004). Witha highvolumeof informationbeingexchangedin theweb,manypeopleare veryworriedabout theeffectof suchinformationfallingintothewronghands.In thisregardsmanypeoplewhoare sharingconfidentialinformation ordata that has significanceweightto their work,lifeandbusinessisprotectedthrough encryption program(Gutmann $ Shearer, 2006). Eventhoughthisformof data andinformationsecurityis not totallyunbreakable,encryption programisone of thewayswidely used toavoidintrusions.Buttheeffectiveness of thisformof securityis under threatfrom thestate,with proposedlegislationson encryption servicesthat shall curtailthedevelopmentof encryption systemsanduser rights.Under thenewproposal,allusers of encryption will be requiredbythegovernmentto giveout their decryption keys(DeVries, 2013).
Thiswork has shown that the “ the death of privacy’ has not beencaused by the lack of care per se by users of various digitaltechnologies in the information age, but it is the efforts by privateand public entities to maintain order, stability, enforceregulations, business and monitor work that has threatened to ‘kill’our privacy. Most of theprivacythreatsfrontedby moderntechnologies can be avoidedby beingmeticulousandemployingvariousdevicesandsoftware that helpprotect our personalinformationanddata. Nonetheless, all communicationexcept in thefewcasesof encrypted messagesis can be wiretapped by another person at any time. User trackingwhich is internet-basedcan givefulldossiers of shoppingaswell asreadinghabits.Internettradejointwith thewillingnessof users to provideitinerantinformationhas madeiteasyforgovernment, private bodies and individuals to assembletheeconomicprofileof eachandeveryonline trader.Inthecomingdays,itwill be possibleevento have invisible markings on all activities done on the electronicmedia. No efforts from public can prevent government surveillance(act done in guise of security) and we are likely to witness a totalloss of privacy in the near future as we continue to makeadvancements in the field of technology.
DeVries,T. W. (2013). Protecting Privacy in the Digital AgeBerkeley Technology Law Journal, 18 (1): 283-311. Retrievedfrom:http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/btlj/vol18/iss1/19
EYGMInc. (2014).Privacy Trends 2014: Privacy Protection in the Age of Technology.EYGMLTD.
Froomkin,A.M. (2012). Deathof Privacy.StanfordLaw Review, 52:1461.
Gutmann,P. and Shearer, J. (2006). Government, Cryptography, and the Right ToPrivacy. Journal of Universal Computer Science, 2 (3): 113.
Solove,D. J. (2004). Thedigital person: Technology and privacy in the Information Age.New York: New York University Press.