Free Technology's Impact on Privacy Rights Essay Sample

One of the benefits of our modern society is the advancement of technology. Internet, electronics, computer software and hardware, and communication devices has provided us with multitudes of benefits that life as we know it, is more simple and enjoyable. However, like all benefits, there are also great disadvantages on the advancement of technology. One of these cons is the basic right of privacy. According to Rich as stated in the US Constitutional Framework, wherein the Fourth Amendment provides "the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures . . ." Hence, the right of an individual on his privacy is protected as a rule. However, the same right to privacy is not explicitly protected by the Constitution and that Fourth Amendment is merely addressed as a limit only to the Government in trespassing on the privacy of an individual, and is not addressed against third parties or private individuals who wish to transgress on the privacy of another. This does not mean that the State does not protect the privacy of individuals, in fact, the rules concerning transactions between different private individuals, including privacy concerns, are regulated by individual statutes of different local governments all over the United States and by judicial decisions as explained under tort law.

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In line with privacy issues in conjunction with the advancement of technology wherein individuals may be able to transgress on the privacy of another, absolute protection of privacy is merely regulated, and that right of privacy of an individual with regards to others is a moral and ethical issue. In line with the study conducted by Bernd Stahl on the "Responsibility for Information Assurance and Privacy: A Problem of Individual Ethics?", the issue with regards to privacy in relation to security, through the advancement of modern day technology, is discussed in detail. According to the study, technology has a way of providing companies and private individuals with more protection, and also at the same time a threat to other people's privacy. Information assurance is viewed as a technological advancement in providing better security for its subject as a rule. But the question arises is whether in protecting the subject, violation of the right to privacy of other individuals are transgressed. It is to be noted though that information assurance as stated in the article of Stahl has been strengthened by the terrorist attack in the US, thence, the government has created measures in protecting national security not only through military means, but by securing vital information on US Military and Government Facilities. With the advancement of government systems relating to information assurance, private individuals and companies have also followed.

Though much of the technological advancement has been directed against terrorist attacks, other benefits like,  detection of viruses, worms and other malicious software, and protection against hackers have also been addressed. But these advancements have also provided companies with the ability to upgrade their security by regulating access on vital company information which is not open to everyone. Other advancements which are of security concern include the setting up of biometrics for employees, in order to properly identify them and their rank in their company. However, these same advancements as per Stahl is also the reason why the right to privacy is violated. Companies today has the power to check on information about their employees without their consent. These can be done through surveillance, wherein a person in his entirety is put under a microscope and is studied and observed, without his prior consent. While this method is used primarily for the purpose of securing the interests of the company or organization, it still violates to an extent the right of another to be left in his own privacy.

In the article by Stahl, privacy is explained as the right to "be let alone", which includes the right not to be assaulted, beaten, imprisoned, maliciously prosecuted and so forth. The article focuses on privacy as a restriction on freedom, and those who persons who are behind the information assurance. While the Fourth Amendment limits the Government on its power to interfere on the privacy of another, the article states that the greatest threat to ones security are private enterprises. These are because of economic incentives which may be gained by these companies by collecting data from private individuals. The transgression here lies with the gathering of data from an individual without his consent. This is where companies especially those engaged in telecommunications may be held liable for violation of privacy. With all the advancement in modern day technology, these companies have the power and the resources to gather and solicit information from an individual without their consent.

The article however answers that the ethical problem may be resolved by responsibility of the subject who is gathering information. But again, according to Stahl, having a sole individual directly responsible to the privacy issue is impossible, as the individual on his own does not have all the resources necessary to answer to be a competent subject. This is because the individual is limited by his knowledge necessary for a successful ascription of responsibility, according to Stahl. Here, the article proposes a solution to the ethical issue of responsibility through the adherence of Collective responsibility. Hence, the individual alone cannot be held responsible for the acts of transgressing ones privacy, but only through the company as a whole. While individual responsibility plays a vital aspect in information assurance and privacy, collective responsibility should be adhered as the person responsible.


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