Technology Vs. Privacy Essay, Research Paper
In a society where technology is rapidly growing, controversy over our privacy rights has also cultivated. With the popularity of the Internet, cell phones, ATM and credit cards it is evident that Americans enjoy the convenience that has come along with technology. What some people may not know is that we are watched by computers when we simply browse a web site, we are posting our whereabouts every time we use our ATM card, and we freely give out our address and phone number when we allow ourselves to be listed in the white pages. Are the advantages worth the possibility of the deprivation of our right to privacy? Between the chaos of school and work I know I appreciate the convenience of modern technology.
Cordless and cell phones and baby monitors are commonly used communication devices. It is easily possible for conversation to be intercepted by FM radios, scanners and some old TV sets. When I use my cell phone I am very careful not to say anything that I wouldn’t want anyone else to over hear. Users need to be aware that they can’t be sure who is listening to their conversation. In Iowa, a woman who became suspicious of a neighbor’s cordless phone conversation she over heard on her FM radio, notified the police. They instructed her to record the conversations (without a warrant) for over a year. Such eavesdropping was ruled admissible by the Supreme Court (Marx 326).
ATM cards are another device that is conducive to the comfort of our daily lives. Fast accessible cash whenever needed is a convenience that many people enjoy, but whenever we insert our card into an ATM machine we are entering our whereabouts (Quittner 336). Although this may bother some people (considering this a violation of their privacy) most people choose to overlook this because they value the opportunities they can get in return, such as cash whenever needed. Knowing that I leave my tracks when I use an ATM machine doesn’t bother me as much as giving up the advantages that I receive would.
The popularity of the Internet and personal computers also pose threats to the users privacy. A law passed by congress requires the government to tell citizens what records are being kept on them. This law also demands that this information is not allowed to be given out unless it is required by law. The reaction of the private sector was to let credit-card companies, insurance, banking etc. to produce their. This solution worked until the use of desktop computers connected to office networks and the Internet became so widespread. In the 1950’s, the U.S. government began entering records on big mainframe computers. Now information that was once pretty much unattainable may now only be a “few keystrokes away” (Quittner 338-339).
Another privacy issue that comes along with the Internet is the problem of “magic cookies”. Most web sites use little bits of code to track visitors. They do this to detect interests of the visitor and then post ads that would attract the user from the information they have gathered. Some people are opposed to this, viewing it as unfair to watch consumers without their authorization (Quittner 340).
It is obvious that complete privacy can not be achieved if you want to take advantage of the benefits that come along with using modern technology, but you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. I would like to protect my privacy, but I also enjoy amenities of using my cell phone, ATM and credit card, and the Internet. I, along every other American who uses these items need to be aware of the possible intervention of our privacy that comes along. Don’t say anything that you would mind being overheard while using cell and cordless phones, or while in the same room as a baby monitor. With ATM and credit cards it is up to the consumer to decide whether achieving total privacy is more important than making your life a little more comfortable. Same goes for the Internet. If the fact that your trail can followed through cyberland gets under your skin, then the choice is up to you whether or not to use it.
Bottom line: when it comes down to it, I agree with Kevin Kelly, the executive editor of Wired magazine. The solution to the privacy issue is more knowledge. Know who is watching you and know what information travels between us (Quittner 341-342). When you have the knowledge of how technology can invade your privacy you can decide how important it is to you.