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A Guide to Internet Privacy Laws and Ethics Essay

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With information systems, privacy deals with the collection and use or misuse of data More and more information on all of us is being collected, stored, used, and shared among organizations Who owns this information and knowledge?

Privacy is a status wherein an individual can work on his/her information in seclusion, resulting in a selective revelation of one’s identity and information. Privacy can mean anonymity in case a person wants to remain unidentified. Privacy can also be related to the security aspect of an individual or information. The definitions of privacy can differ across individuals and cultures. The invasion of privacy can be avoided by the issue of privacy laws.

Internet Privacy and Ethics

Using the Internet often comprises the use of social networking sites, email facilities and the browse of various other websites. Internet privacy comes on the scene when it comes to website users giving out their personal details on the Internet. For certain websites, which facilitate online shopping, the users are made to input their credit card numbers. In case of emailing sites, there are issues about whether third parties should be allowed to store or read emails without informed consent. Whether or not, the third parties should be permitted to track the visitors on a website, is another major privacy concern. The other important Internet privacy issue is whether the sites that gather personally identifiable information from the users should store or share it.

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Internet privacy can be considered as a subset of computer privacy. Computer privacy consists of the data privacy relating to the avoidance of the improper disclosure of the personally identifiable information collected and stored by websites. The effective sharing of data while protecting the private information is the real challenge.

Privacy and the Internet

* Huge potential for privacy invasion on the Internet
* E-mail messages
* Visiting a Web site
* Buying products over the Internet
* Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P): screening technology
* Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 1998: requires privacy policies and parental consent
* Potential dangers on social networking Web sites

E-Mail Privacy

* Federal law permits employers to monitor e-mail sent and received by employees * E-mail messages that have been erased from hard disks can be retrieved and used in lawsuits * Use of e-mail among public officials might violate “open meeting” laws

Computer Matching is a mass surveillance technique involving the comparison of data about many people, which has been acquired from multiple sources. Its use offers potential benefits, particularly financial savings. It is also error-prone, and its power results in threats to established patterns and values. The imperatives of efficiency and equity demand that computer matching be used, and the information privacy interest demands that it be used only where justified, and be subjected to effective controls Computer matching is the comparison of machine-readable records containing personal data relating to many people, in order to detect cases of interest. The technique is called ‘computer matching’ in the United States, and ‘data matching’ in Australia and Canada. Although the latter term is perhaps more usefully descriptive, the United States term is more common in the literature, and is used in this paper.

The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act

The Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 (5 U.S.C. 552a(o) et seq.) amended the Privacy Act by describing the manner in which computer matching involving Federal agencies could be performed and by adding certain protections for individuals applying for and receiving Federal benefits. As amended by the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act, the Privacy Act requires Federal agencies involved in computer matching programs to: Negotiate written agreements with the other agency or agencies participating in the matching programs; Obtain the relevant Data Integrity Boards’ approval of the match agreements;

Furnish detailed reports about matching programs to Congress and OMB; Notify applicants and beneficiaries that their records are subject to matching; and Verify match findings before reducing, suspending, terminating, or denying an individual’s benefits or payments. Though the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act certainly involves detailed procedures, including obscure ‘Data Integrity Boards,’ it is probably most notable for the fact that it institutionalizes sharing of data among federal government agencies. Information collected for one purpose may be used for different purposes by a different federal agency. Though integrity and fairness seem assured by the Act, privacy is not.

Flaming also known as bashing, is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users, often involving the use of profanity. Flaming usually occurs in the social context of an Internet forum, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Usenet, by e-mail, game servers such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, and on video-sharing websites. It is frequently the result of the discussion of heated real-world issues such as politics, religion, and philosophy, or of issues that polarise subpopulations, but can also be provoked by seemingly trivial differences

Spam is most often considered to be electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. Some people define spam even more generally as any unsolicited email. However, if a long-lost brother finds your email address and sends you a message, this could hardly be called spam, even though it is unsolicited. Real spam is generally email advertising for some product sent to a mailing list or newsgroup.

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