We Must Have A Right To Privacy

4031 words - 16 pages

The Information Age has emerged with speed, excitement, and great promise. The electronic eyes and ears of technology follow us everywhere. There are those enamored with the rush of technology, who b elieve that the best of worlds is one in which everyone can peer into everyone else's lives. In fact, we now live in a world consumed with "the ecstacy of communication" (Karaim 76). Americans line up to reveal their darkest secrets of their m ost intimate moments, or just "hang out their dirty laundry" on the numerous television talk shows. The more exposure, the better. So it may be absurd that we should worry that our privacy is being endangered, our personal life and even our se crets made public. The loss of privacy is on the fast track, and the high-tech Information Age is a willing conspirator. Somebody, somewhere, may know something about you that you'd prefer to keep private: how much you earn a year, what you paid for yo ur car or house, whether you've had certain diseases, what your job history is. Your medical, financial, consumer, and employment records are in computers and may be flying through cyberspace without your knowledge or consent.


Electronic progress has been miraculous, even exciting, but with it problems evolve. One of the greatest is the threat to people's personal privacy. The Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) was developed in the 1980's to give people an easier way to de posit and withdraw cash that they had in the bank. Everyone who has an account is assigned a secret PIN number, but someone in the bank has access to clients' financial records in the electronic database. Another type of new technology is the ele ctronic tolls used on the nation's highways. Drivers can pay tolls electronically with passes that type-off the driver's whereabouts. These records are stored in a databank and can be accessed by state officials. One of the most popular devices today, which is used on toll roads, office buildings, banks, and stores to deter crime is the surveillance camera. But how can a law-abiding citizen protect his privacy when he is constantly being filmed? The cellular phone, a best seller in the 1990's, provid es convenience of calling while on the go. Are the calls a person makes on these phones confidential? No, a call can be intercepted and people who have police scanners can pick up access numbers. Perhaps as popular as the convenience of using the cellu lar phone, is the ease of paying by credit card. But even the cards can be monitored electronically, making everything that a person purchases known to outsiders (Quittner 32-33). Then, of course, there is the Information Superhighway, whose users numbe red 30 million in 1996. As citizens perform more social and commercial transactions in cyberspace, it becomes easier to track down their spending habits, interests, life styles, and beliefs. A computer expert can take any person's Social Security number and find personal...

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