Tag Archives: computers

The Right to Privacy, Data Protection and Social Media

globalhopping

By Rick Bretz

Joining a social media site like Facebook is opening the curtains to the big picture window to your life.  However, when you pull the draw string to open up the curtains in your home, you can close them back up just as fast anytime you want to keep your life to yourself.

“The right to be left alone”

The World Wide Web is the global communicator and what a user does on it or puts on it is forever, saved on a server somewhere for use on the Wayback Machine.  When you click on something you are part of the big industry of data mining and collection that can be parsed, sliced, organized and delivered to businesses and analysts everywhere.

Congratulations! You are part of the modern technological community.

The Right to Privacy

A book published in 1995, authored by Caroline Kennedy and Ellen Alderman, foresaw the future conflict between data protection, data collection and the right to privacy for internet commerce customers.

In the introduction, the authors pointed to a phrase justice Louis D. Brandeis used more than 120 years ago when he called the Right to Privacy, “The right to be left alone.”  The question is if you buy something from a vendor website should you have the right to be left alone or should your personal preference data be left alone.  If you buy a widget on the internet today you will find widget advertisements pop up on the news websites you visit later on.  Is that right? Is that OK.  Is that just the way businesses run in the age of information technology?  The short answer is “Yes.”   Does it give a business the right to do whatever they want with the data?  Arguably, “No.”

The authors also correctly point out that the word “Privacy” does not appear anywhere in the United States Constitution. However. one could infer a right to privacy when reading it, especially in reference to the Bill of Rights and its amendments.  The important one that comes to mind is the fourth amendment concerning illegal search and seizure.

laptop computer table

The current issue being covered by the media involves Facebook and how they treat their data mining and collections of users.  The business of selling user data and preferences to other agencies for them to use for other purposes has made Facebook users think twice about continuing to post their thoughts and likes.

One could argue that when someone signs up for Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site you are giving up your right to be “left alone.”  What you really want is the ability to selectively let your friends and relatives know what is going on in your life.  People are upset today because Facebook is treating their data from the personal lives of users like another commodity, like selling computer hardware on the open market.

In the Kennedy and Alderman book, the authors were ahead of their time when discussing issues associated with personal rights concerning this issue. Their topics included, Privacy and Your Self, Privacy Versus the Press, Privacy and Law Enforcement and Privacy in the Workplace

The book discusses the Fourth Amendment, in particular concerning a law enforcement case.  The book explains that this amendment states “a right of the people to be secure in the persons, houses, papers and affects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”  The book further explains that the Supreme Court has interpreted the amendment as protecting an individual’s “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The question remains, if you join a social media site, should you presume a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Today information technology, web use, and data collection and analysis generate effective business practices and customer satisfaction.  It’s the reason a consumer can order something from the internet from a vendor and be assured that product will be available to be sent to customers the same or next day.  Data mining and collection can be used to effectively manage a business or negatively effect a user as when businesses sell their data to other companies or when black hat hackers steal the data and sell it or hold it for ransom.

Most universities have an Information Technology ethics course as part of their curriculum for computer science graduates.  The “Do No Harm” philosophy can be followed or not.  As with any instrument of technology, if put in the wrong hands, the potential for damage increases.

Businesses have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect data.  Data that can personally identify someone should be protected with a special effort.  Personal Health Information (PHI) and Personal Identifiable Information (PII) like social security numbers, phone numbers and addresses are gold to black hat hackers who want to ransom the data.  Experts in the field of information security will tell you there are millions of instances everyday where hackers try to exploit vulnerabilities in commercial and government networks to get user data. The good news is most of them are thwarted by perimeter security technologies.  The bad news is it only takes one attack that defeats these measures to mess things up.   Consumers don’t need companies selling their data and spreading it elsewhere to add to the challenge of safeguarding user information. Protecting data and personal privacy should be important to an individual and to everyone who sees it.

Notable Links:

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0ez668Go2gIViLbACh0jtQufEAAYASAAEgL6C_D_BwE

https://www.sans.org/security-resources/ethics

https://www.eccouncil.org/code-of-ethics/

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/3/ethics-and-the-it-professional

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-privacy/facebook-says-data-leak-hits-87-million-users-widening-privacy-scandal-idUSKCN1HB2CM

https://www.techradar.com/news/us-uk-investigating-facebooks-role-in-cambridge-analytica-data-breach

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/03a_claypoole.html

https://www.isaca.org/Journal/archives/2012/Volume-6/Pages/Lack-of-Privacy-Awareness-in-Social-Networks.aspx

http://archive.org/web/

 

 

 

 

1984-Thirty Years Later

nsa-operations

by Rick Bretz

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, published in 1949, has been reestablished as the go-to book for all things wrong with government privacy invasion and society’s ills.   With government-funded security professionals scrutinizing some or all of the internet usage and phone conversations that are happening today, it does reflect the worst themes of 1984. Of course it is more complicated than the government watching over people. September 11, 2001, showed us that proper vigilance can go a long way toward keeping people safe from terrorists who want to prove a point by killing innocent people. Orwell’s novel remains a commentary on communist practices in the Soviet Union and modern relationships between governments, media and citizens throughout the world.

Some of the themes of 1984, nevertheless, seem to be blanketing our society as we live and work carrying our information devices. Smart Phone and internet monitoring are instances of privacy concerns. In spite of this fact, millions of people publicize their every move on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media. This fact makes it difficult to take the side of a person wronged by the invasion of privacy. People want privacy only on their terms. Like the movie star or celebrity who craves success but doesn’t want the paparazzi baggage that comes with it. If you want safety and security and still need your family and friends to know about last night’s pizza party, you have to compromise a little, maybe a lot.

Below is a 1984 to present comparison.

1984 Themes Today
Invasion of Privacy-1984————————2014> Phone Surveillance, internet tracking
Constant Surveillance1984———————2014> GPS Trackers in Vehicles, Cameras on Streets and at traffic lights. Aerial Surveillance
Torture (Room 101)-1984———————–2014> Pick a country
Double Think-1984——————————2014> Advertising, college professors
 

Cult of personality1984————————-2014>

World Leaders, celebrities, musicians, talk show hosts, and televangelist
Tele-screens (two-way Monitors)-1984——2014> Overhead surveillance, street cameras, two-way camera software
Class System (Proles, Outer Party)-1984——-2014> The 1 Percent, Poor, Working Class, Blue Collar, Middle Class, the Power Elite, Educated Elite, Fortune 500 CEOs, Government Officials (Elected and Appointed)
News Speak-1984——————————-2014> Affordable Healthcare Act, (government catchphrases used as titles for legislation)
Ministry of Plenty (Food Supply)-1984———-2014> Rising Oil Prices, Government Regulation, Inflation
Ministry of Peace (War)-1984——————-2014> World Leaders and Defense Ministers
Ministry of Truth (News)-1984——————2014> CEOs and managing editors of news organizations dictate the headlines and stories seen by consumers. Federal Communications Commission. Advertisers
Ministry of Love (Dissidents)-1984————-2014> Whistle blowers usually pay a price
Poverty, Vices-1984—————————–2014> Making vices like alcohol and drugs (marijuana) available control the public and provide needed revenue.
Censorship-1984——————————–2014> If a show or story does not please a power player, they have monetary and power influences to make it disappear.
Controlling the Middle Class-1984—————2014> Taxes, regulations and travel restrictions or religious and government organizations (Republican and Democratic Parties)

 

There are many ways to track a person today. It would be difficult to get lost when the hunter really wants to find you. Let me count the ways: GPS Device, Car Computers, Credit Cards, Smart Phone, Home Phone, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Aerial Reconnaissance, Drones, and Toll Roads just to name a few.

Cars today have what is called a “Breaking Coach.” It tells you that you have driving skills. Don’t kid yourself. It is a way to determine how safe our driving habits are in case we are in an accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement officials really want to know this.

Your MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique set of digits that identifies your particular computer or Network Interface Card, and with the IP (Internet Protocol) address, can determine your internet history. It’s a digital signature.

When you drive through a toll booth, a camera records your drive through and your license plate and if you have a toll sticker on your window it identifies that too.

Officials in several states are studying the feasibility of adding hardware to vehicles to track the number of miles a car travels on the highway to determine a road tax.

And the hits just keep on coming.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/george-orwells-nineteen-eighty-four-is-published

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four