The right to privacy is granted to all American citizens under the fourth amendment. Webster’s online dictionary defined privacy best as the “freedom from unauthorized intrusion.” Recently, the privacy of Americans has repeatedly been breached. From corporations to the United States government, to anyone with an internet connection, no personal information can be guaranteed safe.
Corporations and employees are frequently debating about privacy rights in the workplace. Companies periodically read employees emails, whether written on corporate or personal time. They feel the need to keep track of an employee’s time an employee goes on a lunch break, coffee beak, or a rest room break, and time it down to the minute (Schuler). While this may not always be the case with management, average employees are subject to strict supervision. Every site an employee visits is logged in a database for future reference; every email sent from any work computer, even if from a personal email account, is logged; every password you type while on any internet connection at work is stored. That being said, phone calls are the safest means of communication. Companies can still wiretap phone calls at work but only have receiving a warrant or written consent from an employee (Schuler). Workers also have to worry about online attacks at the work place. Hackers will try to penetrate your work terminal for monetary gain (Schweitzer, 54). Recently, the use of personal technology being confiscated before corporate meetings has been debated. Corporations’ major cause for concern dealing with portable personal technology is how advanced technology has become. A phone much smaller than a wallet can record voice and video conversations for several minutes at a time. This type of technology presents a great threat to the company’s privacy. Unethical and disgruntled employees have the technology to record any meeting and then sell it to a competing firm. This information may be crucial to any corporations’ success (Sennyah). Employees wonder at what point does corporate privacy overstep an individual’s privacy.
Government officials have breached citizen’s privacy frequently over the last couple of years. Government, through the National Security Surveillance Act (NSSA), have been wiretapping cell phone conversations, often on random innocent citizens who the government should have no reason to believe these citizens would be involved with any illegal activity. The NSSA legalizes the president’s National Security Act (NSA) by forcing him to turn the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping over to a secret court.( Weisman) The fourth amendment guarantees a citizens protection from unlawful search and seizure. Government officials have found a way to bypass the fourth amendment in late 2001. The “Sneak and Peek” warrantless entry style stems from Section 213 of the U.S. Patriot Act and is becoming over used by police officers. FBI and officers break into a suspect’s home using the system of “delayed notices”. The FBI is still required to attain a warrant before performing any search and seizure operation. Delayed notices allow the FBI or officers to search an area without giving notice to the owner, find material of interest to a case, and then attain a legal warrant and arrest the owner at a later date (Abramson). Officials are not only using Section 213 of the U.S. Patriot Act to monitor citizens. The FBI keeps track of every message sent on the internet and every program a user has downloaded through a special database known as Carnivore. Carnivore works by using packet sniffers, commonly on Microsoft Windows, to send a continuous stream of information back to the FBI (Konrad). The FBI’s database, regardless of how secure, can still be hacked online. Online groups like Hacking for Satan and PoizonBox take pride in hacking government websites, including Carnivore. PoizonBox hacked over 900 government websites including Chinese and American sites (Verton, 94). Groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) based out of Washington are the sole privacy lobby that has constantly improved over years (Agre, 155). EPIC aims to inform the general public about rights users have online and ways users can prevent personal information from becoming public knowledge. As technology evolves, be careful how you communicate, the American government is watching you.
America has become scary when it comes to personal privacy, no information is safe. As a citizen, one should be particularly careful with how information is released. Be careful where you openly discuss private matters, someone may be recording you. Avoid sending violent electronic messages to prevent attracting FBI attention to your information. After September 11th privacy seems to have been compromised for national security. The Patriot Act clearly violates several rights granted in the Constitution. Privacy is not a matter to be left on the political backburner.
Larry, and Maria Godoy. “The Patriot Act: Key Controversies.” NPR.
2006. April 12, 2009. < http://tinyurl.com/7lz5f>
This NPR article was particularly useful for my research. It went in depth on “Sneak and Peek” and roving wiretaps, both help the government to spy on citizens. Roving wiretaps help cover more than just phones under warrants for wiretapping. It allows current technology like Blackberries and PDAs to be monitored along with emails and internet connections.
The authors go into great detail about
groups, and how technology has changed them. They mention an
Stichting Waakzaamheid Persoonregistratiie or “Privacy Alert” the Dutch
created. In the 1980’s this organization
was the greatest non-government watchdog in the world.
By 1994 the organization had gone under along
with several similar programs. The
state that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) based out
Washington is the sole privacy lobby that has not become less effective
time. These groups will act as support
to public privacy in my essay.
Konrad, Rachel. “New documents shed more light on FBI’s ‘Carnivore’.” CNET. November 16, 2000. April 12, 2009. <http://tinyurl.com/cw5smg>
Rachel’s article on Carnivore was particularly helpful for my essay. She brings up EPIC suing the FBI for Carnivore. Discussing Carnivore in depth, Konrad points out several flaws with the amount of information capable of being gathered from a user. The government released several documents that revealed that Carnivore did far more than the public was lead to believe.
Schweitzer spends most of his book talking about privacy security in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. He explains open risks when information is transferred from computer to computer or computer to tree ware. Many eyes can view documents while printing or transferring. Crooks could break into an information storage center and steal valuable information. The author also talks about different types of encryption and security including wiretapping, terminal penetration, or physical theft of information on magnetic media.
Sennyah, Patrick. “It is better to play safe than be sorry.” New Straits Times. Malaysia. September 30, 2007. Local; Pg. 18.
Patrick talks about dangers in the workplace. Devices as small as pens can record full meetings and pose serious risks to companies and employees. He talks about how companies are starting to ban cell phones from meeting due to their recording capacity.
Shuler, Phillip G. “Surveillance Rule No. 1: Obtain consent.” South Central Construction. November 1, 2008. Construction Law; Pg. 29 Vol. 57 No. 11.
Shuler brings up points on technology in the workplace. He discusses how corporations use technology to monitor employees “efficiency” as well as their location. He mentions video camera surveillance to monitor employees and email monitoring. Bringing up a good point, Shuler mentions that phone conversations are safe because companies must seek warrants or written consent from employees to perform wiretaps.
Dan mentions hacker’s famous codenames like
Exploiter who are brothers. These
brothers hack to take aggressions out on anything.
He uses hacking examples of a group called
Hacking for Satan. They vandalize church
sites around the globe. Another group, PoizonBox took pride in hacking
websites including American and Chinese government sites.
Towards the end he explains how the patriot
act has changed hacking from being shady and illegal to an act of
Weisman, Jonathan. “GOP Leaders Back Bush on Wiretapping, Tribunals.” Washington Post. September 14, 2006. April 13, 2009. < http://tinyurl.com/fucex>
This article written by Weisman for the Washington Post reveals the plan for congress to pass a bill that requires the NSA to go through a secret court to attain warrants for wiretapping now. This bill came to pass as the National Security Surveillance Act (NSSA). The government now justifies its wiretaps through this secret court.