Privacy and Surveillance

Privacy is one of the most fundamental of human rights and a breach of the same is a significant intrusion that infringes on human dignity. The American constitution is a testament to its importance through the first amendment that stops congress from enacting laws that might limit such freedoms as the freedom of free speech and media, and an enactment of laws intruding on privacy would limit such freedoms. However, technological advancements have led to serious complications that have necessitated some form of surveillance on the avenues of communication presumably for the common good.

There has been significant debate about the constitutionality of such acts with most of such controversies finding their way into the courts. One such act is the child online protection act that was passed by congress but struck off by the courts as unconstitutional since though it sought to protect children from negative materials and from cyber abuse, it went against the provisions of the constitution (Nouwt et al, 2005). The modern age has seen a significant use of the internet as the most preferred mode of communication.

This is because emails are fast and with the increased use of computers, they offer a simple method to communicate while working with an unlimited storage for such communications. However, several government and civil acts have queried the privacy of emails since they can be retrieved by government and lawyers and used to prosecute. Furthermore, simple mistakes can lead to messages being sent to wrong sites leading private messages to be read by other internet users.

But the most worrying is the fact that emails sent or received on company equipments are not private and can therefore be accessible to management (Milberg et al, 1995). Also, emails to government employees are considered government records and can therefore be availed to the media as mandated by the freedom of information act. Furthermore, other security acts like the CALEA and FISA authorize the government to order surveillance and compel communication companies to aid it in conducting surveillance on the communications of people suspected to having or planning to commit crimes (Lendman, 2005).

References Lendman, S. (2009). Internet Threatened by Censorship, Secret Surveillance, and Cybersecurity Laws Retrieved June 11, 2009, from http://www. globalresearch. ca/index. php? context=va&aid=13706. Milberg, S. J. , Burke, S. J. , Smith H. J. , & Kallman, E. A. (1995). Values, personal information, privacy and regulatory approaches, Communications of the ACM, 38(12) Nouwt, S. , Vries, B. , Prins, J. & Prins, C. (2005). Reasonable expectations of privacy. New York: Cambridge university press.