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Cyber Advocacy

The right to privacy in America in a basic right, but the new advances in technology threaten this right. With a drastically increasing amount of people using Internet and online services their privacy is at stake and most of them don’t even know it. Online services are private communities for subscribers only. They are not actually the Internet, but a private service with their own features. However most online services such as America Online offer Internet access through their service and they do take steps to protect you from fraud over the Internet.

Unfortunately direct Internet access providers leaves your protection completely in your own hands, since they are merely providing you with a connection. This problem with privacy is not only one that reaches everyone in America but reaches everyone in the world with a computer . Due to the sheer magnitude and potential of this problem it is very difficult to advocate because it reaches everywhere. Thousands of people everyday log onto online services and Internet services, but how secure are their transactions and affairs.

More and more people are using online methods to purchase items over the Internet, but how secure is their credit card and billing information? Most of the services provide encryption to protect consumers from fraud, but many others offer no kind of protection to keep consumers information private. Also our privacy can be violated in different ways such as access to personal medical records. Many employers like checking out possible employees for and mental or physical health risk that may occur while in their employment, which seems reasonable enough.

However access to this information could be highly misused by anyone with a motive. Currently there is no law to protect medical information on the Internet, but are strong laws protecting video rental list. Anyone with computer and the right tools could most likely find out all your medical information, but they wouldn’t be able to find out what you rented from Blockbuster the other night. One such incident occurred to navy sailor, Timothy McVeigh(No relation to the bomber).

McVeigh was accused of breaking the Navy’s Don’t ask, Don’t tell, Don’t pursue policy and he was discharged from the service. Upon an investigation it was later found out that the evidence supporting his dismissal was obtained from America Online, which is the nations largest online service. This was clearly an invasion of authority and the information was obtained illegally. McVeigh sued the navy for his unfair dismissal and he won. “McVeigh’s lawsuit is the first case to challenge governmental access to sensitive subscriber information maintained by an online service.

In a statement issued when the suit was filed last week. It is an important test of federal privacy law that will determine whether overnment agents can violate the law with impunity, or whether they will be held accountable for illegal conduct in cyberspace. EPIC noted that the incident also raises serious questions concerning the adequacy of contractual privacy protections like those contained in the AOL subscriber agreement. ” Published by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Washington, D. C.

Many other Internet users face yet another kind of privacy violation, which stops them from visiting certain Web sites or engaging in certain topics for fear that their personal information might be revealed then or at a later time. Many people will not visit an AIDS, abortion , or sex site in fear of their personal information being violated. This is keeping people from voicing their views and learning more about a topic that might be controversial. Many companies like LEXIS-NEXIS develop a public record database used to store personal information, although nothing of serious consequence.

The information was made available to anyone who knew how to look it up on the Internet. When people who were on the list found out that this was being done they were furious and demanded that their names be taken off the list. There are certain ways to avoid having your personal information distributed simply by visiting a web site. One way of having anonymity is if you are accessing the web through an online service then all the web site could find out about you is that you are accessing them through an online service.

Online services have been very responsible in keeping their customers information private, but they do however flood you with advertisements. However, these are simply advertisements similar to a billboard or a commercial. Another form of privacy that can be obtained on the net are programs that are specifically designed to hide a users identity and personal information and simply give them an alias of their choice so they are free to surf the web without fear of their privacy being violated.

There are currently no laws protecting privacy on the Internet, because it is conflict with the first amendment rights. In the Communications Decency Act case, the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said that the Internet deserves the highest degree of First Amendment protection because it is such a vibrant, decentralized medium. American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824 (D. Pa. 1996). ] There have been bills introduced in congress dealing with privacy on the Internet to date.

Congress has taken no steps to pass bills introduced to protect Social Security numbers and medical records. There has been much concern and conversation about the issue, but no real action is taking place in a legal way. No laws have been passed protecting our right to privacy on the Internet. The advocacy process has caused some action to be taken by personal online services and users, but none in the legal sense. This problem is not the fault of the advocate, because what they are advocating is in conflict with the first amendment.

They are fighting for everyone’s safety on the net, not to be taken advantage of through fraud or marketing, discrimination, or even black mail. This is not an easy thing to do for several reason, the first being that this problem is international. A Internet user across the world could access personal information where there is no law forbidding him to do so. The advocates are trying to not try and stop the freedom of the Internet, but simply have more steps taken to protect personal information.

If any information about you must be accessible through the Internet by someone for a legitimate reason then they also should take steps to protect that information from unauthorized users from viewing and exploiting it. They are fighting for laws to be introduced, but they have had no success yet. So for the time being they are simply trying to make everyone aware of the problem and keep them informed on how they can protect themselves with a variety of different programs developed to protect you. There are also many advocate groups out there that willkeep you informed on the issue and how to protect yourself.

One of these groups is the Electronic Privacy Information Center(EPIC), they can be reached at www. epic. org. Literacy plays an important role in this situation. The advocates are trying to make Internet users more computer literate and more aware of the dangers of using the net. Being literate to the dangers that you face will help you avoid them and save yourself a lot of trouble and money. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the risks that they are taking when logging on, simply because the number of people using the net is enormous it is an overwhelming task to reach everyone.

Advocates are trying to make Internet users more aware through publications, online web pages and ads. In conclusion, many of personal information is readily available on the Internet which has caused many people to be outraged. There are certain companies that are taking steps to insure privacy to their customers. There are also several ways a Internet user can protect himself, although they usually don’t know they are at risk until it is too late. Even when they do know they are at risk many don’t know how to protect themselves.

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