Privacy is considered a fundamental privilege that should be enjoyed by every individual. Many people are however increasingly alarmed by the rapid technological advancements in technologies that enable other cybercriminals, corporations and government agencies to access the personal information of other individuals without their consent. Generally, most of the privacy challenges we are currently facing are a result of the rapid advancements of privacy evading technologies that have been witnessed in the past few decades. Unrestrained technology is ending the privacy of individuals. For example, video cameras, computers as well as communication networks have all increased the security risks to the private and personal information of millions of users across the globe. Although some of the technologies such as surveillance cameras are used to enhance security and cut down on crime, they have also significantly compromised the privacy of individuals.
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One of the most serious privacy risks today is the problem of identity theft. It is undeniable that some of the identity thefts result from the recklessness of computer users and companies which sometimes leave their important personal information available in the systems. The recent technological advancements have also resulted in increased cases of cyber crimes whereby criminals can gain access to the credit reports, life histories and other private information of unsuspecting individuals by hacking the systems containing this information or using malicious programs such as malware. Sometimes, however, the governments may intentionally gain access to the private information of individuals particularly when such individuals are believed to be posing a security risk (Lee, p. 3). Apart from being constantly monitored by the government agencies such as the F.B.I with their surveillance cameras in the name of national security, the other institutions such as stores and corporations are also increasingly using technology to collect personal information from their customers particularly through the use of club cards, rebates and raffles.
Additionally, some corporations have begun to use technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification devices (RFIDS). These devices are often used in the form of miniature microchips attached to the products from these companies and corporations. For example, a Television company can embed these devices on its Television products in an attempt to track their sales and usage. Although proponents of these devices argue that their usage helps to acquire the necessary information regarding the customer use of their products and consequently enable them to improve on them, the use of RFIDS just like the other surveillance and tracking technologies is a serious interference concerning the privacy of the customers (Juels, 108). Other analysts believe that in some cases, numerous benefits come with individuals foregoing some degree of their privacy. For example, some people argue that without the surveillance cameras, insecurity and terrorism would have been higher and some of the crimes such as the attempted London subway bombing could not have been prevented.
On the other hand, other proponents also argue that the use of tracking devices by some corporations and manufactures is beneficial to the customers because it provides the manufactures with the necessary information such as their product usage and purchasing habits. This enables these companies to improve their customer satisfaction. The problem however lies in the fact that some of these data and personal information stored by surveillance and tracking devices can be potentially attacked by cybercriminals thus posing greater security risks to the personal information of these individuals (Newitz, p. 118). Consequently, the costs of the privileges that come with increased surveillance and security are the compromise of our privacy.
In my opinion, technology is good and in itself can not violate the privacy of individuals but rather it the users as well as the policies in place that have often resulted in the increased violations of the privacy of other individuals. I believe that the notion that we have to forego some of our privacy to enjoy the privileges and the convenience of modern technologies is quite misplaced. This is because we can only realize the full benefits of technology if it is used to protect and preserve our freedom. Technology should therefore not be blamed for the death of privacy. The blame has however existed quite for some time. For example, during the 1890s, many lawyers and analysts argued that the diminishing right to privacy of that time was a result of the flourishing technology of contemporary society. This is however not the case as privacy invasion by technologies does not often occur in isolation. Technology is only a creation of a society in an attempt to meet particular societal needs and should therefore be regulated.
In conclusion, although most of the privacy challenges we are currently facing are a result of the rapid advancements of privacy evading technologies, an important way through which technology can be regulated to protect the privacy of individuals is to understand the consequences and implications of their use. The government should also enact policies that protect personal information as well as take issues related to personal privacy more seriously.
- Juels, Ariels. “RFID Security and Privacy: A Research Survey.” RSA Laboratories, 2005, 3.3 (2005): 103-111. Print.
- Lee, T. Laurie. “The USA Patriot Act and Telecommunications: Privacy under Attack.” Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal, 29.2 (2003): 2-10. Print.
- Newitz, Annalee. “Defenses lacking at social network sites.” Security Focus, 15.4 (2003): 116-125. Print.