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Privacyin the Digital Age

  1. Problem Statement

1.1The lack of privacy in the digital age is watering down the benefitsthat advances in technology have accrued to internet users.

Debatesabout the privacy of information in the digital age have been ongoingfor many years. The controversial nature of this issue has beenbrought about by the companies or institutions that use or disclosepeople’s personal information to advance ends that are not intandem with those of the victims. Wiretapping,by the US government security organizations, for example, has becomea highly controversial issue (Mullikin and Rahman 32). Casesof the NSA tapping into the phones of people and retrievinginformation without their consent have also been reported (Pagliery).

Manypeople assume that their online conversations are confidential thisis not always the case. The owner of a company or the supervisor hasthe legal mandate to monitor the messages of his employees if theseindividuals used the office computer to communicate with otherparties. Also, even when a person uses his home computer to sende-mails to friends and family, the information can still be tappedsince the technology used leaves unencrypted e-mail. The same goesfor private documents such as confidential documents, medicalrecords, and communication messages that are available online.

Thisproblem has not been addressed because the constitution of the US hasno express right that guarantees online privacy (Linder). In essence,privacy has aroused contention because, on one hand, the governmentofficials argue that they have to intercept messages to guaranteenational security, and, on the other, privacy activists contend thathumans have the right to privacy of information. This problem isworth researching since it affects everyone who uses the Internet anddigital technology. Developing a comprehensive solution to addressthis issue has also proven perplexing to many policy makers due toits complex nature.

  1. Research Questions

Advancesin technology have resulted in debates regarding the privacy ofinformation in the digital age. Cases of people’s information beingdivulged or used without their personal consent have been reported inthe past few years. Questions regarding the rights of individuals toprivacy have been brought to the limelight. This proposal, thus,seeks to answer some questions:

  1. Does the US Constitution guarantee Americans the right to privacy of information?

  2. Does the government have the mandate to violate the right to privacy of information of an individual?

  3. How does the lack of privacy in the digital age violate the rights of internet users in the US?

  1. Literature Review

TheAmerican constitution does not guarantee its citizenry an expressright to privacy (Linder). However, according to James Madison, theBill of Rights addresses some issues regarding certain aspects ofprivacy. For example, it stipulates the right to protest unreasonablesearches, a right of privacy of beliefs, and privacy againstself-incrimination, which states that all parties have a right topersonal information. In addition, the Ninth Amendment specifies thatthe detailing of specific rights should not be considered anopportunity to disparage other rights that are accorded to people.Some individuals believe that the Ninth Amendment is a, somewhat,broad justification for studying the Bill of Rights to guaranteeprivacy in ways that are not enshrined in the first eight amendments.

Sincethe constitution guarantees privacy in a fashion that is notexpressly guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, the topic of people’sright to privacy becomes a highly controversial issue. Judge Brook,for example, asserts that the right to privacy is, generally,inexistent (Linder). The Supreme Court, conversely, guarantees thatthe Fourteenth Amendment guarantees a right to privacy, albeit in abroad manner. This right encompasses decisions that center on issuessurrounding marriages, child rearing, the termination of medication,and procreation. Nonetheless, no explicit legislation advancespeople`s right to private information.

Thus,in an implicit way, security agencies such as the NSA act withintheir mandate whenever they intercept people’s communication or tapinto the phones of civilians. In fact, according to John Pirc, a CIAcybersecurity researcher, government spies usually set up theirexclusive cell network towers that connect directly to the phones ofprivate civilians. The towers, then, send a command, through radiowave signals, to the antennae of the private civilian`s phone. Thecommand prompts the phone to simulate a shutdown. This approach,according to Pirc, is used to turn the phones of terrorists orcriminals back on, even after they switch them off.

Inaddition to the above, modern technology has fallen prey toelectronic interception and surveillance (United Nations HumanRights). Recent discoveries have unearthed the covert manner in whichnew technologies are being developed. The previous High Commissionerof the United Nations asserted that such surveillance threatens therights of individuals, including the freedom of expression andprivacy, and hinders the free operation of an energetic society.

Asurvey conducted by the Pew Research Center, on profiling andtracking, revealed that the Americans had divergent views when itcame to matters concerning their privacy (Madden and Rainie). 93% ofthe masses were concerned about the entity that was charged with theresponsibility of handling the personal information of people. 74% ofthis group believed that knowing the institution in charge ofpersonal information was very important while 19% felt that thisinformation was somewhat important. Also, 93% of the respondentscontended that sharing information via a trusted channel ofinformation was highly important 73% believed that a reliablechannel was important, and 21% felt that a reliable channel ofinformation was somewhat important. These statistics reveal that themajority of people value their privacy and would not want theirprivate, digital space infringed.

Thereferences that were utilized to generate the information above wereboth authoritative and up to date. Jose Pagliery’s article bringsto light the manner in which security agencies such as the NSA tapinto people’s phones without their consent. The article also quotestrustworthy sources such as the individuals who work or have workedin these agencies. May Madden and Lee Rainie’s article reveals theattitudes that Americans have toward the privacy of information. Thearticle uses research to back up its assertions. Douglas Linder`sarticle shows the sections of the US Constitution that advocate forthe privacy of American citizens it also brings to bear theweaknesses of the constitution in protecting the privacy ofAmericans. Lastly, the United Nations Human Rights Commission alsodeveloped an article that showed the inadequacies of the moderntechnology and how innocent civilians fall prey to the acts ofunscrupulous individuals.

  1. Research Methods

Thisresearch will be conducted over a 2-month period. Online researchsources will be preferred over print sources because the informationcontained in online resources is regularly updated. The researchprocess will be initiated by developing a list of items that will beused to guide the research process. The following questions will beaddressed:

  1. Does the US Constitution guarantee Americans the right to privacy of information?

  2. Does the government have the right to violate the right to privacy of information of an individual?

  3. How does the lack of privacy in the digital age violate the rights of internet users in the US?

Thefirst step of the research process will be to study the constitutionto develop an in-depth understanding of the laws that have been putin place protect the privacy of the citizens of the United States.Later, the researcher will institute further research into the billsthat have been passed by Parliament to safeguard the virtual privacyof the private citizens. This information will equip the researcherwith detailed information regarding the provisions of the law thatprotect the American citizens from an unlawful or unwarrantedinvestigation. Linder`s article will help the researcher to gainfurther insight into the question of whether the US Constitutionguarantees the Americans a right to privacy or not.

Thesecond step will be studying the articles published online byreputable media sites. Reports from official media outlets like theBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Australian BroadcastingCorporation (ABC), and organizations such as the UNHCR will be usedto gather the essential information. Debates centering on Internetprivacy and the privacy provided by mobile network service providerswill be reviewed thoroughly. Also, information provided byindividuals working in the security organs of the government will bestudied. Research conducted on the attitudes of the Americans towardonline and digital surveillance will also be highlighted to revealhow far-reaching the problem at hand is.

Inaddition to online articles, online journals that show the importanceof privacy to human existence will also be studied.Mullikin and Syed’s journal (32-39) will be used to bring to thefront the impacts of a lack of privacy on the masses.

WorksCited

FRANCIS,ENJOLI. &quotExclusive: Apple CEO Not Budging over Shooter`siPhone.&quot ABCNews.N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

Linder,Douglas. &quotThe Right Of Privacy: Is It Protected By TheConstitution?&quot.&nbspLaw2.umkc.edu.N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

Madden,Mary and Lee Rainie. &quotAmericans` Attitudes about Privacy,Security And Surveillance.&quot PewResearch Center: Internet, Science &amp Tech.N.p., 2015. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

Mullikin,Arwen and Syed Shawn M. Rahman. &quotThe Ethical Dilemma of the USAGovernment Wiretapping.&quot IJMIT&nbsp2.4(2010): 32-39. Web. 15 Jul. 2016.

UnitedNations Human Rights. &quotRight To .&quotOhchr.org.N.p., 2016. Web.15 Jul. 2016.