Individual Rights

Another sphere of concern is that society stands at a dangerous point in the evolution of privacy. As more and more people realize the importance of privacy, critics see less and less government leadership on the issue. It is fine for the wealthy to purchase their own privacy. But if government does not follow through, and if people are not able to afford the privacy they feel they need, then some ultimately will take matters into their own hands. A secure system is one which follows laid-down security procedures with an system alternative system to fall back on in an emergency and where the costs of failure are quantifiable and insured.

“The Internet Privacy Survey demonstrated that a number of American web sites are making notifications about data protection practices, even though they are under no legal obligation to do so” (Klosek 2000, 158). New technology brings new opportunities for crime, which ranges from com¬puter theft, desk-top forgery, voice and electronic mail terrorism, to graffiti sent by facsimile transmission and electronic data interchange fraud, including 'hacking' and destruction of data by introducing computer viruses.

‘Although computer crime is usually associated with the web, it is thought that many offences are actually committed by employees on internal networks or machines” (Tansey 2002, 128). A crime can be committed at a distance from where the criminal actually is. Passwords are not adequate security. Computer software anti-virus programs will scan disks for known viruses, which destroy computer data. Use of disks not originated on the network should be avoided unless they have been checked.

The latest security procedures incorporate IDES (Intruder Detection using Expert Systems) which have profiles of how employees of a company typi¬cally use a system. The computer can then inform the security division of a company if it identifies any significant deviation. It also monitors the system for failed log-in attempts and the amount of processing time being used and compares this with the historical averages.

Legislation and regulation may be one of the best techniques for protecting privacy in the twenty-first century, just as laws and regula¬tions proved to be the only effective way to protect the environment in the twentieth century. “Anytime one provides information for credit card applications, medical records, insurance applications, driver's applications and renewals, on-line purchases, or visits to Web sites, information is gathered and stored” (Buchholz, Rosenthal 2002, 34).

For this reason, without government protection for the privacy rights of individuals, it is simply too easy and too profitable for busi¬ness to act in a manner that's counter to our interests. The internet is closely interwoven with the wider development of mediated communication, a process which has gone hand in hand with the expansion of economic organizations and with the development of the modern nation-state. Confidentiality relates to information sought, obtained or held by an organization, the disclosure of which might be detrimental to that organization or to the third party that supplied it.

What is more, when privacy violations are found and corrected, it's usually very diffi¬cult to know if the fixes were made in the technically correct manner (James, 2002). In sum, right to have private thoughts or conversations is threatened by governments, marketers, and the relentless instrumentation of the planet. Personal histo¬ries are being laid open by insurance companies. Thoughts may one day be simulated, or at least stolen, by advanced computers.

It is difficult to look at any segment of the economy and not find new, aggressive violations of individual privacy. One of the inherent problems with privacy-protecting technology is that it is very difficult to know whether or not the technology is work¬ing properly. Companies using data, or providing data services must take appropriate security measures against unauthorized access to, alteration, disclosure or destruction of personal data - and against accidental loss.


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