Little law is written pertaining to regulation of the Internet and whom the responsibility lies with. It seems as though, yet again, the government has left this up to the private sector. This would be perfectly fine, except the judicial branch has made no laws requiring the private sector to take a stance on the issue. Other nations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Germany have strong privacy legislation, but the United States is certainly not on the forefront of this movement.
The privacy Act of 1974 obviously does not pertain much to cyber privacy but regardless, has been criticized for having too many loopholes and lacking adequate enforcement (Langford, 86). It is difficult enough taking old legislation and trying to apply it to cyberspace, but with the state of the existing privacy and security legislation it is even more difficult. Because technology outpaces the law (Langford, 123), the law may never be able to effectively operate when it comes to matters of cyberspace.
With such little legislation, it is difficult to determine who is responsible for regulation and, ultimately, for making the decision about how much information can be publicly known about sex offenders. All in all, it is the publisher of the information that is ultimately responsible for revealing the correct amount of information about the sex offenders. Whoever published information usually answer to an editor who decides what is published and revealed on their webpage or not.
In this case, because the publisher and the editor are the same party it is a mute point, but editors can or cannot be held responsible depending on what is reasonable (Rosenoer, 125). For example, it is almost not feasibly possible for an editor to be able to go through and scan say millions of posts a day to determine if anything illegal and slanderous was published. Since the editor and publisher in this case are the same, it is the publisher who has control and holds responsibility to publish the correct amount of information about the criminal's personal records to the public.
H But before we can hold these people accountable, a decision must be made as to what they're accountable for. Although homeowners and, more broadly, citizens have these rights, prisoners, non-citizens, and criminals are treated differently. It's almost as if they are in "bad standing" with the United States and therefore are on probation and not granted the same liberties as the rest of us. Defamation of someone is legal is the information is "fair comment" and in public interest.
It is also legal if made under the protection of privilege, such as criminal libel (Langford, 118). I would argue that because a certain person choose to act out in a criminal way, others have the right to protect themselves against said criminal and thus the information is not defamation at all, but is actually fair and necessary in order for the public to insure security. Therefore regardless of the weak, wishy-washy laws involving cyberspace, the laws on the privacy rights, property rights, and the defamation of criminals is clear in law and precedence.
If the information revealed online was that of an innocent citizen who requires full legal protection, the case would be different. However, since the peoples whose privacy at stake are registered sex offenders, they have certain rights relinquished in order to secure the common good of the community. The right to privacy can be described as a right to exclude others form some property. The criminal record belongs to the police, not the individual. And their personal information, such as their home address, is handed over to the public in order to protect the common good.
People have the right for their actions to be free from scrutiny or judgment (DeCew, 64), but not when those actions are illegal. So it is perfectly legal what the publishers of sex offender search sites such as watchdog. com (www. familywatchdog. com) are doing. Keep in mind though that the publishers of the website are those responsible for the information. When the police made the legal decision to release the information, it is legal for a sex offender locator website such as watchdog. com to publish this information for the common good.
However, although there is not crime in operating a website such as watchdog. com, if it were to be found that too much information was discovered by the publisher and released to the public, the fault would be in the hands of the publisher. If criminal privacy rights were crossed and too much information were published, such as who their phone numbers, social security numbers, or even who they're children are and where the go to school, the publisher would be found liable and guilty of intruding on privacy rights, even the little privacy rights that criminals still hold onto.
It is the publishers' of the websites responsibility to regulate the information and monitor it to insure that only information that is legal and pertinent to the common good of the public is published and released to the public. Based on the given proof, regardless of the counterarguments revealed, I believe that it is perfectly ok for website creators to release such information, for the website host to allow it, and for the police to release the information in the first place. Not only have I proved that it's legal, but I have also showed that it is ethical.
For the good of the entire community, privacy rights of sex offender criminals much be but on hold. The general public's rights outweigh the rights of the criminals. Although criminals are still citizens, they gave up their right to privacy when they committed the crime. Not only is it perfectly ethical for the criminals' information to be posted, but also it is also ethical for community members to view this information and use it to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.