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Privacy and Computer Technology Essay

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Privacy is a valuable interest and is now threatened more than ever by technological advances. Privacy is defined as the ability to control the collection, use, and dissemination of personal information (Fast Trac Course ). At one time people could once feel confident that what others may find out about them would be treated in a way that it would probably do any harm. Information technology has been beneficial for privacy. By having access to ATMs and online banking we rarely have to present ourselves to a teller. Online shopping offers similar benefits such as being able to shop without standing in long lines and being able to compare prices and research products before purchasing. However, since so much of what we do daily is done using a computer, it can pose a serious threat to privacy.

This information can then be recreated to create detailed personal profiles that could not have transpired in pre-digital days. Furthermore, this information can be distributed far, wide, and immediately without our consent or even knowledge. Judicial remedies are unlikely to produce a satisfying or sensible balance between companies’ economic prerogatives and customers’ privacy interest. New technologies that has either unconsiously adopted or resourcefully applied privacy practices will continue to threaten personal privacy. Business will have to find ways to address this uneasiness. If companies remain complacent, underestimating the degree to which privacy matters to customers, harsh regulation may be waiting in the wings. The best way out is for businesses and customers to negotiate directly over where to draw the lines. (What is Privacy?)

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There are many databases and Internet records that track or keep record of information about an individual’s financial and credit history, medical record, purchases and telephone calls. Most people do not know what information is stored about them or who has access to it. The ability for others to access and link the databases, with few controls on how they use, share, or exploit the information, makes individual control over information about oneself more difficult than ever before. For example, the caller Id was originally designed to allow you to screen your calls and protect from receiving unwanted calls from harassers, telemarketers, etc… In turn it involved privacy concerns for both the caller and the person called. Over the years, there has been a clash between privacy and advancing technologies, which can make a compelling argument for overriding the privacy intrusions.

The challenge of improving security while protecting privacy is called Real Id. The real ID act provides significant challenges. It was signed into law on May 11, 2005 (public law 109-13). After may 11, 2008 “A federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a dirvers license or identification card issued by a state to any persin unless the state is meeting the requirements”. The real ID act defines what information and features must appear on the card, what documentation must be presented before a card can be issued, what verification the state must do before a card can be issued, and security measures to prevent tampering counterfeiting and duplication of the card. The Real Id requires states to confirm the identities and documentation of applicants, Make drivers licence and ID cards extremely difficult to counterfiet, and to assure one driver one record so that you will be able to own only one licence which only go for people that has mutliple addresses .

The Real Id Act is really the outgrowth of the 911 commision reccomended that the licence be improved and it should be a national standard. Represenative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) who was the cahir of the house judiciary committee said “American citizens have the right to know who is in their country, that people are who they say they are , and the name on a drivers licence is the holder’s real name, not som alias.” Historically the licence has been a state function so the act tailors the mandate that you must present this identification.

The challlenges comes from the act because the real ID act was written by Congress without expressing privacy protections. Some of the privacy challenges are what information should be stored in the machine readanble zone?, who should have access to the information stored in the machine readable zone?, and what information, if any will be centralized in order to facilitate the necessary data exchange among the state?. I feel that there should be some limitations on the information stored in the readable zone and the data systems protect the personal information from unauthorized uses and disclosure.

Information about individuals is used by businesses to provide customers with a huge array of targeted goods and personalized services that consumers have come to expect. If it lands in the wrong hands, this same information can result in harm to the very individuals it was meant to serve. The protection of an individual’s personal information has business implications that extend beyond the privacy of any one individual. Private information relative to certain businesses and industries is protected by various laws. For example the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws protect private medical information. Many states have enacted their own laws, and the federal government is regulated by the Privacy Act of 1974. Legislatures are increasingly responding to calls for greater protection of private information, and stories of improper disclosures of large volumes of private information receive prominent media attention.

At present, there is no broad, general federal law protecting the privacy of customer information; most protections are aimed at particular types of information (such as medical or student records,) or particular types of businesses (such as medical providers, banks, and financial service businesses). Customers and consumers expect their information to be protected and businesses that recognize the need to make privacy part of their business strategy are ahead of the game. Many companies have gone to great lengths to protect information using technological advances. However, the ability of a business to protect private information it collects as part of its business is only as strong as its weakest link “the human factor” something that technology just can’t overcome. Having knowledge of privacy and security should be aimed at individuals who work with private information to help understand the ways that this information can be disclosed inadvertently.

We are now moving into an era where there will always be a digital observer. Unlike footprints left in the sand, our online data trails often stick around long after the tide has gone out and they are growing rapidly. Digital footprints are trails of information left by a person’s interaction in the digital environment (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_footprint). They existed since day one or even before you were born. Internet users don’t realize that every time they use the internet they leave digital footprints.

This includes massive amounts of data in the form of email, documents, images, games, music, apps, movies, login and logouts, visits to a web-page, accessed or created files, chat messages or any other material showing the activities being done on a website. What people don’t understand is when you try to reduce your digital footprint you actually make it larger. When trying to reduce your digital footprints interested parties can still use data they have found for evidence, data mining or profiling purposes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t try to protect yourself but you should take precautions when accessing or posting personal information on websites. People need to be proactive and take control of their digital footprint.

Due to increased utilization of social media, we should have a heighted awareness of privacy. Being aware of what personally identifiable information that is included in your online profile is very important. Publicy exposed private information on the web can also be used to steal your idenity and money. With more employers’ using the internet to find out about their current or potential new employees, it is good to know in advance what information is floating around the internet about you. You should only put PII in your profile that you wouldn’t mind the entire world including potential or current employers to view. For example, you can find this out by searching for yourself in Google to see what comes up. Also, be wary of strangers. People can misrepresent themselves and their motives so when posting on any social media website it is good to limit who is allowed to contact you and what you tell strangers with whom you communicate with (U.S. Department of State Privacy Tips).

Privacy is so important not just to my online presence but also to my financial documents. Financial privacy is a another term for a multitude of privacy issues, ranging from financial institutions ensuring that their customers information remain private to those outside the institution as well as individuals ensuring that they are protecting their privacy in the privacy of their homes. These documents can be protected by guarding your social security number, calling carefully, and cleaning your name off call lists. Unless you are paying your income taxes, you shouldn’t place your social security number on checks and don’t keep your number in your wallet. A stolen or lost wallet with your social security number can make it easy for someone to obtain new credit in your name. An 800 number is a convenient cost saver, but not if the company you call isn’t reputable. Your call can be the electronic source for undesirable solicitation lists or cause fraud by giving out your credit card number to someone who misuses it.

You can ask companies you buy from not to release your name to others. You can also have your name eliminated from mass mailing lists by writing to the Direct Marketing Association. Protecting your financial privacy is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The fair credit reporting act guarantees access to your credit report for free. If you at anytime feel your credit has been compromised you should visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website. (How to Deal with a Security Breach) In summary, There are many threats to privacy but there are ways you can prevent compromise by criminals and by privacy invading infestations. There are many things you can do to increase to increase your privacy especially online. Protecting your privacy online requires keeping your computer safe from many types of online dangers. Some of the ways to prevent online dangers are making sure the sites you vist is safe beofre sharing personal information.

This incluses your real name, email address, credit card number, etc….The next way is to make sure your online account is properly configured for ideal privacy protection. This includes making sure to use a password that are hard to break. The next way is to protect wireless connection from dangers or intrusions. When connecting to the internet via a wireless connection make sure that you re suing a protected password. The next way is to remove yourself from search databases. This can be done by sending a email through a reputable website such as private eye, 123people.com, or intelius.com. Another way is by increasing the privacy of your browser. This a very important part of protecting your online privacy but it also secures your computer against malware and other threats. Lastly, use a temporary credit card number that is linked to your financial account but is only valid for single or limited transactions.


(Wikipedia, pg 1)


Fast Trac Course

How to Deal with a Security Breach

The Three Basic Forms of Business Ownership

What is Privacy?

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