PROFESSOR: HEATHER ALTFELDFISHER
AUGUST 5, 2013
Privacy The intersection of computers, information, and the law is a vast topic that has been the subject of many books throughout the years. A few years ago, a noticeable personality once said, “You have zero privacy. You should learn to get over it.” This proclamation ignited a fierce debate across America with people terming those words as impervious. However, the truth of the matter is that these words, however harsh they may seem, are 100 percent true.
The computer is neither good nor evil. In itself, it has no morals, positive or negative, because it is simply a machine. As with any other tool, such as a hammer or a gun, the morals of the user shape its functions. When we see examples of computers threatening society, do not blame the computer, but rather blame the person sitting at the keyboard. To protect ourselves from those who wish to use computers to infringe upon our rights, knowledge is the best defense. If we can understand aspects of this dark side of today’s technology such as privacy, piracy, and pornography we will be better prepared to live safely in our digital society.
Privacy of the person The amount of data collected about us is staggering. We leave a digital fingerprint every time our credit card is used or when we borrow a library book, go to the doctor, rent a movie, bank online, apply for a job, email, blog, use Facebook, and so on. We are aware that some of this information, such as what is been posted on a blog, will be seen by many people. It is intended to be public. But other information is extremely private, such as our bank account login code and the unauthorized access of personal information is a serious threat. How can we protect ourselves and preserve your privacy? The first step is to safeguard our personal computer, because this is where we store much of our personal information (Tynan, 2005). One thing that we should be aware of is that when you delete a file, it is not really gone. I believe that the data still exists in your computer's memory. Deleting a file simply tells the computer that if it needs more memory, it can use that space. But it may not do so. So when we sell or throw away our aged computer, there is information that we could be leaving behind. A wealth of data for an identity thief to easily uncover. There are several solutions for this. First, if getting rid of an old computer, make sure you take out the hard drive, get a hammer, and literally destroy it. Second, if deciding to sell the computer.
You can delete all the files on your hard drive and then make one large word file with lots of pictures and copy it over and over until your hard drive is full. This will write over all of your data. A third solution is to purchase a software program that, will permanently delete anything you want to erase from your hard drive. Another privacy concern is that someone might break into a computer that you currently use and steal data. You should require a strong password but this is sometimes not enough protection against a skilled data thief.
Many of the current legal concerns revolve around the issue of privacy. In a recent book on invasions of privacy in the computer world, Dan Tynan (2005) listed more than 150 privacy concerns. As Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, infamously said in 1999, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it" (Tynan, 2005). But of course, this is not something we can or should get over, but instead be aware of the threats. Sometimes privacy invasions happen as simple mistakes. Imagine sending a private email to your friend complaining about your boss, and having this email appear in the inbox of someone who might know your employer personally, or even the boss his or herself. Another recent privacy issue occurred with Google's new social networking site called Buzz. When it first went live in 2010, everyone who had Google Gmail accounts was