Information Technology and Privacy
1. What laws and legal rulings provide the basis for the right of privacy?
Privacy issues are sensitive matters that require formal and determined standards or guidelines. Securing one’s privacy is not easy as simply stating or asserting them. To ensure that a population respects the privacy of others and are aware of consequences that will arise from violating other people’s privacy, there needs to be a set of laws or rules that will govern the observation of privacy rights.
The citizen’s right to privacy is clearly and explicitly stated in the Bill of Rights under the Constitution of the United States, approved by the Supreme Court. The fourth amendment relays necessary information that supports the people’s right to privacy in terms of security for people and their properties. Actions that will be taken by authorities to search and seize people and their properties need to be justified by endorsements of the law.
Invasion of privacy is often motivated by authority, such that people in power who have the capacity to violate privacy rights and laws will do so for personal gains. In 1934, the Communications Act was legislated in order to regulate or control the authority and capacity of the government to surreptitiously carry out plans or actions that seek to listen in, capture, record, intervene, interrupt, and such in communication processes. Aside from this restriction prescribed by law to government practices, the Privacy Act also seeks to do the same by urging all agencies, departments, and organizations under the U.S. government to inform the public of systems and approaches being used to keep personal data and records. The government is required to publicly proclaim the purpose and content of these systems and approaches for the knowledge of the people.
Laws and legal rulings of provide that directly targets the needs and concerns of the public are embodied within the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA and the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970. The FOIA provides authority and right to the people to obtain access to information or records from government agencies and organizations. The primary purpose of the FOIA is to allow the public to know and understand government proceedings in order to assess or evaluate the intentions and purposes of the government to protect and develop the country’s position. On the other hand, the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 primarily focuses on the credit reporting industry. This law includes revealing information to the public about how credit information is handled by the industry. This provides a sense of security and assurance to the people in terms of how their privacy or personal credit information is safeguarded.
Laws and legal rulings that exist for the protection of privacy in information technology include the Children’s Online Protection Act of 1998 or COPA and the European Community Directive 95/46/EC. The COPA protects the rights of children on their use of the Internet, such that personal information obtained from them needs to be granted by their parents or guardians. On the other hand, the European Community Directive 95/46/EC protect the privacy of people within the European region by ensuring that all information shared by corporations and organization outside the area is secure.
2. Summarize the arguments that L. Introna presents for and against the use of computer technology to monitor employees. What does Introna mean by an “asymmetry of power” on the part of employees in the debate of computerized monitoring in the workplace? Do you agree with Introna’s position on this issue?
Information technology is widely used within organizations because of its return to the organizational success. Apparently, information technology contributes to the process of surveillance which greatly benefits human personnel armed with the responsibility to carry out this painstaking task manually. Introna presented two primary bases for the use of computer technology. First, as time passes and the trends in business processes and operations change becoming more demanding and strenuous, employees find that their jobs become highly complicated and more difficult. This causes employees to lose their motivation and become unproductive. In order to solve the problem, management organizations became aware of surveillance systems that would monitor activities by employees. This would ensure that tasks and responsibilities will be carried out efficiently, if not serve as a channel for watching work processes and relationships between employees. Second, the advancement of technology, especially in the area of surveillance has dramatically grown over the years. Surveillance systems have become popular and are widely recommended to institutions for broad and comprehensive surveillance purposes.
To debunk this information as backgrounds supporting the use of surveillance systems in the workplace, social activists and unions have rallied against surveillance, labeled as a means of invading the privacy of employees. However, their efforts have not reached a valuable and desired conclusion because the power of business institutions or corporations to implement surveillance policies and systems. Therefore, this means that the employers alone have the right and the authority to impose surveillance systems within the workplace. This imbalance of power or right builds the concept of “asymmetry of powers.” While employees are lobbying against surveillance systems due to issues concerning privacy, business institutions still have the privilege or choice to impose surveillance systems because this action or decision is supported by law.
For instance, although the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 or ECPA limits processes that intercept communications, it does not guarantee employees that their e-mail privacy is protected by this law. Therefore, such lack in content of this law that promotes e-mail privacy allows business institutions the right to intercept communications in the workplace. The implication of this “asymmetry of power” lies in the fact that business institutions can invade the privacy of their employees provided that they gain consent from members of the organization, or if consent is not obtained, to provide valid reasons to justify the process. It is as easy for business institutions to implement surveillance systems.
Introna’s views regarding this issue is for the stand of the employees. Privacy is a right as embodied in the law, and should be respected even by authorities or people in power. What Introna suggests is that the system of implementing surveillance in the workplace should be challenged in such a way that the asymmetry of power is abolished, giving rise to fair play on issues pertaining to privacy. When we think about it, Introna’s recommendations are agreeable to the majority, such that organizations compose more of employees rather than the authoritative body. Moreover, it does not mean that because business institutions have the authority more than its employees that they are allowed to invade the privacy of their constituents. Privacy should uphold justice, and this should be achieved by abolishing the asymmetry of power in the workplace.