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Digital Technology

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Dial Privacy in an Information Technology Age
Three technologies which allow an individual to research citizens’ private data would be Thompson Reuters’ Clear, Spyware, and Social Networking services.
Clear is an asset search tool that runs various public record reports at once and can output someones entire financial life into a neatly packaged 30+ page report. As accessed here,, anyone who registers for the service gains access to be able to look at a persons complete background including addresses, criminal history, financial history, and assets owned through the service. Advantages of public access to this information would be the ability of a bank or collector to be able to track down a person who owes a debt, or for someone to be able to collect on a legal judgment. Disadvantages would be the loss of privacy of the person who is being investigated and the liability of the user to ensure that the information did not fall into the wrong hands. Spyware is unwanted and unnecessary software that is installed without the user’s knowledge which allows for a remote user to gain access to personal files, hardware, and data on the host computer. This is extremely illegal and invasive as the persons privacy is invaded without their knowledge. Spyware can come in four forms, tracking cookies, adware, Trojans, and system monitors. Unlawful access to a computer is illegal under computer crime laws such as the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse act of 1984. This is clearly and effectively displayed in Robbins V. Lower Merion School District, where plaintiffs were charged in using spyware to access web cameras of students in their bedrooms. There are no advantages to access to the information retrieved through this means for the end user, however the person retrieving the information can recover banking information and a plethora of information for fraudulent means. Lastly, social networking services allow for users to share all kinds of information and data, some of which they know about, others sold to advertising companies without their express knowledge. Advantages of access to this information would be an advertisers increased ability to target ads and send you consumer information that is relevant to your tastes and preferences. Disadvantages would be the sharing of sensitive information such as your e-mail address, home address, and phone number, which could spark a bombardment of advertisements and solicitations. In addition, if this information is passed to the wrong hands, there is an opportunity for abuse to arise. Measures that citizens can take to protect private information that they would not want to be disclosed would be to keep such information in a safe place, use multiple passwords online, and ensure that preventative measures are taken to ensure the security of their private data. In todays modern world it is nearly impossible to ensure your information is safe in a digital age. Short from not owning a computer, there truly is no 100% secure way to protect yourself from identity theft or from having private data compromised. In order to protect yourself from the release of information you would not like to be disclosed you would have to ensure that you do not share this information with any entity. The Privacy Act of 1974 in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Act established in 1966, allows the federal government the right to make private information on U.S. Citizens available to the public. These federal laws provide more oversight into government operations and information to allow for transparency in government. In addition these records can provide information such as census data and other data collected by the government on indivudals and businesses. I personally agree with the law in creating transparency in government, as most information that is available is currently public record and can be used for a legitimate benefit. None of the information that is traditionally disclosed could be used in a truly malicious manner as the government would not collect such information. In terms of electronic privacy laws, The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed in 1986. This act was initially extended in order to extend restrictions on telephone wiretaps, to include information transmitted by computer. This act protects wire, oral, and electronic communications while in transit. Title II protects communications held in electronic storage. This law was enacted to prevent unauthorized government access to private communications. Laws such as the ECPA are as effective as necessary. There are always circumstances which may arise where the government has a duty to infringe on the civil liberties of its citizens in order to protect the common good. This could be exemplified in the USA PATRIOT act, where in circumstances of suspected terrorism all kinds of rights can be infringed upon. Nevertheless, for the normal user, laws such as the ECPA protect and prevent others from having access to private information.…...

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