Privacy In Demand Essay

This essay has a total of 1045 words and 5 pages.

Privacy In Demand

Like most countries and especially the United States their inhabitants enjoy a certain
level of privacy. People don't generally want intimate information to be accessible to the
public eye. In fact many people go to great lengths to hide everything about themselves.
What exactly is the definition of privacy? Well, privacy is the expectation that
confidential personal information disclosed in a private place will not be disclosed to
third parties, when that disclosure would cause either embarassment or emotional distress
to a person of reasonable sensitivities. This information includes facts, images (ex:
photographs and videotapes), and disparaging opinions. When over zealous law enforcement
officials demand access to telephone conversations, e-mail or other electronic
communication they are violating the unwritten code of privacy. When organizations from
the private sector purchase intimate information about medical records either for
commercial purposes, or to challenge your insurance eligibility or employment suitability.
Unfortunatly this is a common practice in the United States and it is wrong.

First of all, what does the government do to secure this private information? The answer
is very little. There are bascially two different laws that effect privacy. These two laws
are the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Freedom of Information act. At a first inspection the
two laws seem to work against each other. In short the Privacy Act of 1974 keeps
information in government records concerning individuals discreet. The Privacy Act of 1974
gives the individual the rights to see and copy files that the federal government
maintains on him or her. It also gives the right to know who else has access to that
information, and to request a change to any information that is not accurate. The most
important part of this law is the fact that the government is not allowed to use any
information for any purpose other than the one for which it was initially collected. This
is important and will be addressed later on.

The Freedom of Information Act is used mostly to pry open government files. It was
designed to help individuals obtain information about the actions of government. The law
proclaims that any citizen is to be given access to government records unless the
disclosure involves litigation, the CIA, personal matters, trade secrets, classified
documents, law enforcement activities, and civil service exams.

The two laws are actually an attempt to balance the public's right to know about what is
going on in the government without degrading the rights of the individual's rights.

It sounds like these two laws should cover everyones privacy without too much of a
problem. However, this is not the case. There is an immense amount of information floating
around that is concidered public domain. Take for example the drivers license. Every
drivers license contains a name, birthdate, home mailing address, license number, physical
description failures to appear in court, failures to pay traffic fines, license status,
and major convictions up to and including the past seven years. It does not end there. The
Department of Motor Vehicles contains information that is commonly and routinely consulted
by employers, insurace companies, attorneys, and private investigators. What kind of
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