Invasion of Privacy on the Internet
Invasion of privacy is a serious issue concerning the Internet, as e-mails can be read if not encrypted, and cookies can track a user and store personal information. Lack of privacy policies and employee monitoring threatens security also. Individuals should have the right to protect themselves as much as possible from privacy invasion and shouldn't have to give in to lowered standards of safety being pursued by the government.
Encryption is the best and most convenient way to ensure that e-mails and other files transferred via the Internet are kept private during transfer. The widespread use of strong encryption technology is essential to protect consumers and businesses against spies, fraud, and theft over the computer networks used in electronic commerce. The federal government has just announced a new policy that will maintain restrictions on the export of encryption stronger than 56 bits. Stronger encryption technology may be exported only to subsidiaries of U.S. companies in most countries, or to certain economic sectors in 42 countries (insurance, banking, or online merchants). Some law enforcement interests support legislation that would force U.S. citizens and residents to give the government access to the secret keys that read encryption. Government-mandated key recovery and controls over the strength of encryption are a grave danger to the privacy of law-abiding citizens and businesses, not only in the United States but all over the world. This compromises freedom and sacrifices basic privacy rights.
A new law, Senate bill 6027 (the E-Privacy Act), is trying to combat these sacrifices. This law would prohibit indirect controls or ties to encryption used for authentication or integrity purposes, and it would require a court order to obtain the decryption keys held by a third party. It would also extend to remotely stored electronic information the same protections that exist now for information stored in the home, requiring a court order or subpoena to obtain the decryption key.
Another problem is the ability of "cookies" to watch and keep track of the computer user. Cookies are electronic snapshots transmitted between a web server and the browser software and then stored on the client machine. Cookies enable a web page to adjust its display or other configuration options for particular users, but they can also be used to trace exactly what documents a user accesses on the site. They can develop a user profile, and many feel this capability is an invasion of privacy. Cookies can operate quietly in the background and collect information about an Internet user without his or her knowledge. Hundreds of companies violate the privacy of Internet users by accumulating and selling information about the visitors to their websites. This is often done without the knowledge or consent of the user.
Another invasion of privacy is the lack of privacy policies...