The onset of modern technology has put the right to privacy into question. The right to privacy envisioned by the constitution drafters has been riddled with controversy since the discovery of the internet. Discovery and innovations in the field of technology has increased the chances of privacy intruders. The government and other titans in the field of technology have been identified as potential privacy intruders.
A commission of inquiry drafted the fair information practice principles to regulate how online entities operate to and ensure that the right to privacy is protected. The US Secretary Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems drafted and proposed the names of these principles. The principles are meant to regulate government database. They usually involve self-regulation as most of them are not enforceable by law.
The government uses the online companies’ privacy policies to enforce the Fair information Practice Principles. The principles do not require an agency to regulate the access to privacy by online entities. They have been criticized for being too weak to allow too many unfair online corporations to operate. There is a conflict of interests as consumers want their right to privacy protected. Business entities are, however, not interested in adopting privacy measures that are unfavorable to them. The government, on the other hand, has been accused of failing to self regulate. The surveillance programs initiated by the government are examples of outline violation of the aforementioned principles.
There have been various concerns about the privacy of consumers using social network sites. The congress was alarmed of this trend and passed the Social Networking Online Act. This is meant to protect consumers from companies that seek to violate their privacy. Social networking sites require the provision of private information for users to open accounts. This information is reported to be retained b the social network sites even after the user has deactivated.
There are is an ongoing trend by employers to determine whether or not to hire potential employees by the information provided by social networking sites. Personal information provided by users is accessible to anyone. Employers investigate the drug habits of potential employees and communication skills from the social network sites. Social networking sites argue c that they have upgraded their privacy options. However, employees are too slow to adjust their privacy options. Twitter admitted to using the phone numbers of its users to monitor the behavior of their users. The phone number is used to allow new users to search for friends. In response to concerns over employees making employment decisions, the Congress passed the Social Networking online Act and prohibited employers from seeking the information contained in social networking sites.
The Unlocking Technology bill of 2013 was introduced to congress by Zoe Lofgren. The bill seeks to legalize actions such as phone unlocking and making versions of copyrighted works for the blind. The bipartisan bill also requires the Assistant Secretary of Information and communication to give a report on the impact of the bill on consumer choice, competition and free flow of information.
The bill has received support from several public organizations such as Public Knowledge and Generation opportunity. The congress assigned it to the House Judiciary committee for consideration. Although the bill is bipartisan it would be an uphill battle to convince legislators to pass the bill. If passed it would increase the scope of freedom in modifying personal gadgets.
Congress. (2013, August 5). H.R.1892 - Unlocking Technology Act of 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from Library of Congress: http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1892
Lovink, G. (2012). Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media. New York: Wiley.
Nissenbaum, H. (2009). Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life. New York: Stanford University Press.
Zheleva, E., Terzi, E., & Getoor, L. (2012). Privacy in Social Networks. New York: Morgan & Claypool Publishers.