National American University
Technology has given people access to more information than ever before. There was a time that information such as social security numbers and bank accounts could be protected simply by shredding documents. Now this information can be found on the internet by almost anyone unless it is well protected. These laws help protect personal information from unauthorized users. Additionally, it gives the person providing the information certain rights. Each of the following laws have been enacted to provide protection of a person’s private information from unauthorized access.
The first law is the Privacy Act of 1974 (PA74). This requires an agency to obtain written permission from the individual providing the information before sharing it with another agency. It is also the right of an individual to access their own information for review and changes, and they may also determine what records pertaining to them are collected, maintained, used or distributed. There are exceptions that allow access to personal records and include law enforcement with a need to know, investigations, or administrative purposes just to name a few. An organization that may use the PA74 would be medical personnel when collecting medical information that will be recorded in a system of records.
Another law enacted in 1986 is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). This applies more directly with electronic storage including protection of communications during transport from sender to receiver, electronically stored information, and restricting how the government is allowed to collect information during investigations. When law officials record by phone, collect computer data or monitor any other electronic device, they must first have permission via a warrant. Everyone has been on the phone with a bank or large corporation and the representative with whom they are speaking will often tell the caller that the “conversation is being recorded for training purposes” this is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. This is one law that some people are saying need to be updated because when it was written we did not have things like the internet or email. There is a petition on www.whitehouse.gov/petitions right now waiting on signatures. According to the petition updates are needed to protect emails and posts to social media websites like Facebook from agencies like the IRS. (Reform ECPA, n.d.) This seems to be a very controversial subject in the news right now and it will be interesting to see how it will be resolved.
A more recent law signed into act by George W. Bush in 2001, after the September 11 terrorist attacks is the USA Patriot Act. This law allows agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search phone records, emails, and financial records without a warrant or court order if they claim the information is related to a terrorist act. At the same time, the internet and phone companies are not allowed to disclose that the FBI is doing an investigation. There is a lot of controversy of how this law may infringe on the constitutional rights of people. The Washington Times published an article which gives an example: someone who had posted a comment on personal social media page about “using a magic wand to make a senator disappear”. (Johnson, 2012) As stated in the article, the government has a system that is alerted when certain words or phrases are used that could be considered threating. The original post was made on a personal media web page and was being