Internet Privacy Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 1369 words and 8 pages.

Internet Privacy

A Right to Privacy? What a Joke!

It has become a sad and upsetting fact that in today's society the truth is that the right
to one's privacy in the I.T (information technological) world has become, simply a joke.
In an electronic media article "No place to hide", written by James Norman, two
interesting and debatable questions were raised: ‘Are we witnessing the erosion of the
demarcation of public and private spaces brought on by the networked economy and new
technology?' Also, ‘What roles do government, industry and citizens have in regard to
censorship and privacy?' These statements ultimately end with the fact that it is
impossible for Net users to expect privacy online, because online privacy doesn't exist.
However, one must ask, ‘What will be done about the problem?' while keeping in mind that
yes, the thin line between public and private spaces has been severed as a result of new
technology. It is vital that everyone as users of the internet, be it government, Internet
Service Providers (ISP's), or individuals, need take the issue of internet privacy very
seriously, while basing all actions towards the issue with the moral statement of,
‘Rights aren't free, they're earned'.

The issue of Internet privacy is not a new topic. Numerous articles displaying the urgency
of the issue have been published time and time again. Yet no immediate action seems to
have taken place. The issue of privacy over the Net can be in the form of personal
privacy, privacy of details, and even physical privacy. The Sunday Mail published a
special three-page report on June 4th 2000, outlining a variety of cases where
individual's privacy, had been invaded over the Net through various chat sites. This
report was based as a warning to parents, telling of how children, and young teenagers are
having their personal privacy invaded by perverted older individuals, who seduce them.
Another electronic media article was that of ‘Internet privacy? What privacy!' by James
Norman. This article focused on the problems of Internet privacy, rather than the
solutions, however it did come up with various interesting comments. Norman states,
‘Given the number of entities that have access to our personal information through
databases and list-swapping, it becomes impossible to know how our lives are being rifled
through'. Which is completely true, once you're information is on the Net, it free for the
taking, ultimately leaving everyone in the situation of being unsure of how ‘private'
their ‘private' lives are. Another interesting comment made by Norman on this occasion
was ‘We should not underestimate the impact that internet technology, with it's various
data-gathering tools and techniques, has had in terms of the magnitude of certain privacy
concerns', once again reinforcing the seriousness of the matter.

‘Are we witnessing the erosion of the demarcation of public and private spaces brought
on by the networked economy and new technology?' Of course we are, yet we stand back and
watch it fall apart. An example of this is in that of the case of Alexander Lunney.
Alexander was subject to false accusations at the age of fifteen, of "transmitting
obscene, abusive, threatening and sexually explicit material." It was however revealed
that Lunney was not even a member of the accusing company, and that an imposter had posted
the material in his name. A step further than just anticipating the erosion on a worldwide
basis is to begin NOW to re-form the barriers between the public and private sectors. The
safety of individuals must be assured. It is true that there are numerous privacy acts and
laws that exist to prevent the threat of privacy invasion on the Net, though they aren't
enough and they're not working. So it would be fair in saying that at present, not enough
is being done to protect personal privacy on the Net. To even start to think about
improving privacy, a realistic approach must be taken. Protective action must start with
the ISP, where it should there guarantee about 50% privacy protection at least. Then the
Government should step in to guarantee a further percentage of privacy protection, by
using it's role of power in the country. Finally the individual must be sensible in what
he/she does to assure no privacy is invaded, and that their personal details are not
publicly displayed on the Net. By the time it has come to be the individual users
responsibility, the lack of safety should be reduced and general security must be
increased. The best advise that Hugh Martin, the senior media lecturer at La Trobe
University, could give on the issue of securing internet privacy was to: "modify
techniques to protect privacy offline for online purposes. In other words don't fill in
online personal information forms or questionnaires (and set your browser to reject
cookies). Cookies are unique identifiers that a Web server places on your computer, to
track your every move in a specific site.

So, when James Norman asked the question, ‘What roles do government, industry and
citizens have in regard to censorship and privacy?' what was the obvious answer?
‘Bingo', all have a very significant and vital role in the process of privacy
protection. The Government will of course outline the Laws that apply to Internet privacy,
and they have a duty to control information. However, they need to go a step further that
just outlining the laws, they need to toughen the penalties which apply to the breaking of
these laws or when someone is in breach of the privacy act. The government must publicly
display that the matter of Internet privacy and privacy in general, is a major issue. If
the laws, which apply to the issue, were increased, along with penalties that go with
them, then were brought to national public awareness, an improvement would be seen in
personal privacy. ISP's hold a vital role in enforcing that privacy is upheld, and that
the culprits of breaking the privacy laws are uncovered. By new United States Law, ISP's
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