Protection of Privacy on the Internet

It can be noted that the world is being dominated by the emergence of the internet. It is said that the internet is one of the most powerful mediums of communication in terms of collecting various information among its users. Consequently, the online collection of personal information is accumulated in two different approaches. First, the information is being collected by a website without the knowledge of the users and secondly, if the user regularly visits a web site he or she is required to provide personal information. Herein, the user does not exactly know that the information that they have provided are being saved and that this information can easily be used by the web site for different uses. In addition, personal information can also be gathered when the internet users are classified as consumers, in which their personal information is needed for business transactions (Klosek, 2000).

In this manner, there is a greater possibility that the privacy of the internet users is being invaded without his or her consent. In this regard, many people especially the internet users are now becoming more aware of their right to personal privacy and how this privacy can be protected. Today, there is an intense battle that is going on about personal privacy, due to the tremendous changes that are happening especially in the existence of different technological advancement, it threatens to obliterate the very basic right of any individual to personal autonomy, liberty and personality. Part of these changes is the development of information technologies (Campbell, 1999).

This battle for personal privacy has become a major defining battle, a kind of watershed in history, because the sense of personal privacy is so central to one's identity. It goes to the core of one's very persona, since it is central in defining the self and distinguishing the boundaries between oneself and the society they belong. In the light of this, it is important that people in this age and time should be able to have a clear knowledge about different laws which adheres to the demand of privacy protection.

And since the government is aware that the internet is one of the best medium that has the greater chance of invading one's privacy, different regulations are being imposed. The main goal of these regulations is to intensely protect the privacy of each individual especially those who actively use the internet. These regulations include the self-regulatory regimes and the legislative regulation regimes. Primarily, the purpose of this paper is to critically analyse the effectiveness of both the self-regulatory and legislative regulation regimes in protecting the right for privacy specifically those who are involved on the Internet.

Self-Regulatory Regimes and Legislative Regimes for Privacy Protection Government is aware that many people uses internet as a means of communication and the government are also aware that these internet users are prone from privacy invasion. In line with this awareness, it is essential that the government and the people involve shall employ a legislative regulatory regime that would protect their privacy. In doing so, there are five different approaches of regulation that an online business sector can use to ensure the protection of the internet user's privacy (Ang, 1999).

These approaches include constitutional approach, state control approach, statutory approach, rating and filtering techniques and the self regulatory approach. The constitutional regulatory regime is the one who establishes the constitution of a nation to become the primary determinant of what regulation should be accepted on the Internet. On the other hand the state control regulatory approach is adopted by the government to be able have a direct intervention and manipulations on the internet that their citizen will access (Doyle, 1997).

The next approach is the statutory regulatory regime is the one responsible for the creation of a new legislation that would become the primary determinant of what is accepted on the use of the Internet. The next is the rating and filtering approach. This uses filtering software which ensures that the information is being filtered to protect the privacy of the users. And lastly, one of the hotly debated privacy protection regulatory regime is the so-called the self-regulatory regimes. Self-regulatory regime means that the involved individual or industries are given the opportunity to impose their own policies and regulations rather than the government (Doyle, 1997).

However, these do not necessarily mean that the government has no right to be involved in such regulation. Since regulations has three components which include; legislation which defines appropriate and efficient rules (Sinclair, 1997) enforcement which serves to initiate actions against violators and adjudication which decide whether a certain violations occurs and the one which impose suitable sanctions, the government ca use these components to be a part of the self-regulatory regimes. In this case, instead of using all the components of regulation, the internet industry may only be involved in only one or two component. This is to ensure that the government is still in control of the regulation.

Moreover, private or self-regulatory regime can be seen as a complement and extension of the state (Lenox & King, 2000; Boulding, 2000). According to Price & Verhulst (2000), self regulatory regime has four distinct forms, which differ in concept that determines the success or even the failure of a self regulatory scheme. These forms include mandated self-regulation, sanctioned self-regulation coerced self-regulation and the voluntary self-regulation. Mandated self-regulation is a kind of self-regulatory regime wherein the government authority forced the online business sector to formulate and impose norms within a structure that is characterized and regulated by the state.

On the other hand, the sanctioned self-regulation is a self regulatory regime in which the online business sector itself prepares the rules but the implementation depends on the approval of the government. The next type of the self-regulatory regime is the coerced self-regulation. In this case, the business sector creates a set of norm and policies in accordance to the implied and unambiguous threat given by the government to promote statutory regulation. Lastly, the fourth form of self-regulatory regime is the voluntary self-regulation. Herein, the state has no active participation in the decisions made by the business sector (Price & Verhulst, 2000).

As mentioned above, the utilization of the internet is considered as one of the factors that threatens the privacy of any users. In this manner, the type of self-regulatory regime used by the online business sectors is regarded as coerced. In this regard, the online business sector tries to quickly identify the regulations and procedures to be imposed even before the government authority has been introduced an apparent and comprehensible regulatory regime.

Self-regulatory bodies are capable of acting governmentally while possessing the institutional, and often legal, structures and interests of private bodies (Baldwin & Cave, 1999). They generally regulate entry to an association, formulate their own rules, and enforce discipline. A familiar kind of self- regulation is, accordingly, exemplified by the Law Society, which controls the solicitors' profession (Baldwin & Cave, 1999).

Effectiveness of Self-Regulatory Regime and Legislative Regime Throughout the years, the issue of data privacy has been receiving a large amount of attention. The prominence of this issue appears to be a result of the fact that individuals are becoming increasingly concerned about the wide availability of their personal data and what is being done with those data. While these concerns appear to have been motivated by a number of factors, the advent of the widespread usage of the Internet has been particularly influential in causing pre-existing concerns about the protection of personal data (Regoli, 2002).