Protecting Privacy And Securing The Nation In The 21st Century

1931 words - 8 pages

The idea of privacy protection for private citizens is rooted in history back to the Magna Carta. With the passage of time and the evolution of communication the laws of the United States have attempted to ensure a balance between security of the nation and protecting privacy. The current state of privacy and the law is now in a state of flux as citizens have begun to rely more and more on technological means of communication and have integrated privacy invading technology into their daily lives. It is not uncommon today for the average citizen to have all their conversations and movements tracked and stored into massive electronic databases simply because they carry a cell phone. The use of the internet as a means of communication and commerce adds further to the data collection activities as online banking, bill paying, shopping, and social networks become the norm. In a post 9/11 world this data is now captured, mined, and analyzed to create profiles of citizens to be used in both the private and public sectors to look for illegal activities like terrorism the drug trade, and even larceny. How the laws of the United States apply to keeping this data private while protecting citizens from harm is the goal of this report.
There are currently many laws pertaining to privacy protections in the United States with the United States Constitution’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments being the foundation of privacy protection case law. The Fourth Amendment protection that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” leads the way. While this affords protection from intrusions by the government, the stipulation only goes as far as when the protection is valid. A search warrant for specific information can still be garnered with a simple search warrant. This is for example how police can contact phone companies and quickly locate a person using the global positioning unit embedded in many new cell phones if that person is known to be engaging in illegal activity. The Fifth Amendment strengthens the protections given in the Fourth where it declares, “…nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” However it has also been argued that “The Fourth and Fifth Amendments protect only against government infringements, and do nothing to control the collection and use of information by private bureaucracies.” (Solove 64). Here the main problem is that in many cases, the data stored by these private entities can be held for an extensive amount of time (Burstein 195). Couple this with the privatization of Government security work to companies such as Blackwater USA, which would be immune from Constitutional oversight.
To combat this issue, The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of was created to add in protections that the Bill of Rights fails to address, and...

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