Privacy: Security, Confidentiality, or Convenience?
The evolution of the Internet started from the department of defense's project, and rapidly distributed to world wide. With the rise of the Internet age comes with the benefits and the concerns. Because of the easeness to communicate information and displaying data, the first amendment needs to be applied to this communication channel. How are we using and communicating information without offending and harm others? Since the evolution of the Internet, there has been acts from Congress to regulate the use the Internet such as the Communications Decency Act in 1996 and the Child Online Protection Act in 1998. These acts aim to forbid Internet users from displaying offensive speech to users or exposing children of indecent materials. The Internet raises other issues that people might have. The biggest and most debatable topic is the privacy issue. Is the Internet a safe place to protect personal information such as financial information, medical data, etc…? Some people who are computer literate or at least with some experience in software and technology would not trust to release the information on the web or at random sites . As a matter of fact, any unknown or small vendor on the web would have difficulty getting many customers to do business online. Big vendors such as Amazon would want to secure their network infrastructure to protect the users information, so that their server would not be hacked. However, even this style of protecting personal information is not enough. The users demand further protection such as ensuring their information is not being sold to other vendors for misuse, or spam the users mailbox with soliticing.
Privacy in terms of ethics is being defined in the AMA Code of Ethics as "Information collected from customers should be confidential and used only for expressed purposes. All data, especially confidential customer data, should be safeguarded against unauthorized access. The expressed wishes of others should be respected with regard to the receipt of unsolicited e-mail messages." 1 The AMA, American Marketing Association, is an organization for professional marketers, empowering them with information and education that will enrich the marketer's career. They define many codes of ethics in the marketing world such as honesty and fairness, rights and duties, organizational relationship, access to information.
Privacy issue in IEEE's Software Engineering Code of Ethics is "Keep private any confidential information gained in their professional work, where such confidentiality is consistent with the public interest and consistent with the law."2 A respectable organization such as the IEEE would have a powerful impact to the professional sofware engineers with its code of ethics. This code of ethic for privacy could be applicable and beneficial to all people, not only for us engineers.
In this discussion, we...