Technology Or Privacy Essay Research Paper George

Technology Or Privacy? Essay, Research Paper

George Orwell said it best in his novel 1984; Big Brother Is Watching you . He

wrote these words in 1949. Who would have thought that fifty years from then it is

becoming reality instead of fiction? It now seems as if technology makes the planet

revolve. I will discuss certain aspects of the issue over privacy rights in conjunction with

technology. In this paper I will prove that the government, businesses, and individuals

have access to almost anyone s information. I will also prove that this will neither end,

nor slow down. I will also offer theories about government cover-ups.

Anything you store on your computer can be used against you. (Wang, p.69) The

government has access to every bit of information you put on a form. Anything from

medical records to credit reports. Even your most sensitive information is available to the

government. Virtually every major change in life is recorded somewhere in a government

files. Shortly after you are born, a birth certificate is issued. When you obtain a driver’s

license, get married, buy a house, or file a lawsuit, these events are recorded in

public documents easily available to you and to others. (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Businesses also have access to sensitive

information such as credit reports and credit card numbers. In fact, anyone with a

justifiable business need for it has access to it. Spamming is also a loss of privacy.

Spamming is junk mail on your computer. Often its advertisements for money making

schemes, business opportunities, or even pornography. Some people sell e-mail addresses

to businesses to make money. Also, when you put your e-mail address on forms, you run

the risk of it being sold to businesses for the purpose of spamming. The cost of spamming

is low, therefore, even if one percent of the people spammed actually read and do what the

spam asks them to do, it will cover the minimal costs of spamming. Telemarketers also

interfere with peoples privacy. Technology such as national phone number databases and

automated dialing machines allow telemarketers to reach nearly anyone with a phone line.

With the right tools, any ordinary person can gain access to your personal information.

Computer hacking is one way; computer viruses known as Trojans can give allow

sensitive information to be revealed to a curious hacker. (Wang, 301) I was the victim of

a Trojan this past summer. The person who put the Trojan on my computer had access to

everything on my hard drive including my passwords. These are not easily detected unless

you are careful and know what to look for. One might think that they have complete

privacy, but little do they know a person two blocks away or two hundred thousand miles

away could have access to their information. Interactions between people that are

mediated by technology are prone to both conscious and inadvertent intrusions on

privacy (Bellotti, 66)

Technology is growing at an unbelievable rate. Within a period of about fifteen

years, the Internet has gone from a medium used strictly by universities, scientists, and the

military to a global medium used for everything from education to entertainment by a

majority of the US population. According to research by MIT, the size of the Internet

tripled from 1993 to 1996. (Internet Growth – Summary, By the year 2000,

it is projected that nearly half of the population of the world that speaks English will have

Internet access. (Global Internet Statistics, Will

this growing ever stop? I can t predict the future, but I would be willing to bet that it

won t. It is now common wisdom that the power, capacity and speed of information

technology is accelerating rapidly. The extent of privacy invasion – or certainly the

potential to invade privacy – increases correspondingly. (Privacy International, The Internet is

accessible to anybody. Therefore, the people who use it are accessible to anybody.

It is my firm belief, that the government has more technology than we could ever

dream of that we do not know about. The Manhattan project, a well known example, in

the 1940 s gave the United States the ability to destroy the world. This top secret project

created nuclear weapons. Civilians and most military personnel had no idea this was even

going on. This was developed to end World War II, little did they know that this

technology could destroy the world. The Central Intelligence Agency s main function is

espionage. The government grants them the right to spy on other countries, so what is

stopping them from spying on us? Nothing. Law enforcement has the ability to track

people with cellular telephones. (EPIC, Here is

another thing to think about: As reported in Wired News, Image Data — a company

ostensibly seeking to provide a new method of stopping credit card and check fraud — has

been building a database of cross-referenced photographs and purchase histories.

Documents obtained by EPIC through Freedom of Information Act requests show the role

of the Secret Service in directing and funding Image Data’s pilot programs. In its project

of establishing an unprecedented national identity database, Image Data purchases driver’s

license photos without the permission or knowledge of citizens. (EPIC, The next time you pick up your telephone, how can

you be sure that someone from the government (who s salary you help pay to protect you)

is not listening in on your conversation? According to the Electronic Privacy Information

Center (EPIC), the request for federal and state wiretaps and bugs increased 12%. (EPIC, Should the government be trusted? Would you

believe me if I told you that the government bribed phone companies to make wiretapping

and bugging easy? Its true. EPIC reports: On the last night of the 1994 session,

Congress enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA),

sometimes called the “Digital Telephony” bill. CALEA requires telephone firms to make it

easy to wiretap the nation’s communication system. The bill faced strong opposition from

industry and civil liberties organizations, but was adopted in the closing hours of Congress

after the government offered to pay telephone companies $500,000,000 to make the

proposed changes. EPIC opposed passage of the bill and believes that the government has

failed to justify the $500,000,000 appropriation required. (EPIC, If it makes it easier for law enforcement to tap,

doesn t that make it easier for curious civilians to tap? I believe that the government

should be using their power to protect our privacy instead of encroaching it.

All in all, I believe our privacy is in jeopardy. The government is the catalyst for

technology increasing. As long as it is growing the greater loss of privacy we have. Its

inevitable, this trend of technology forces privacy out the window. People just like us

within the government are allowing this to happen; this is what scares me. I began this

essay with a quote that has turned out to be true, and I will end with one that I hope

doesn t come true. It seems as if we are well on the road to it becoming true. It s in

your nature to destroy yourselves – The Terminator (speaking about humankind)


Agre, P.; Belloti, V.; et al. (1997). Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape.

Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press

Wang, W. (1998) Steal This Computer Book San Francisco: No Starch Press

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse,

Internet Growth – Summary,

Global Internet Statistics,

Privacy International,

Electronic Privacy Information Center,


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