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Issues of Privacy and Surveillance in the US

Privacy in America

Americans’ privacy has decreased in the past years. Many people are now limited to what they do and say. There are cameras, drones and many other things that are watching and listening to them. The only freedom Americans have is at their house. There are many types of personal information concerns. This is because of things like identity theft, credit card/banking fraud, data collection by online services and data collection by Government. Privacy has decreased a major amount, mostly because of the 9/11 attacks. Some airports have put in facial recognition scans because of the attacks. These facial scans violate Americans’ privacy (Nixon, Ron). The facial scans have had high error rates and were subject to be bias, the scans often seemed to fail to properly identify women and African-Americans (Nixon, Ron).

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Employers love to keep tabs on their employees. The technology we have today makes it easier for companies to monitor you. They can read your emails, look at your personal computer files and listen in on your phone conversations (Privacy in America). They can film you with hidden cameras in private places, which is violating the workers’ privacy in many ways. I don’t believe that companies should be able to do any of these things. They should be able to listen to phone calls related to the workplace. This helps the employer to see how the employee is doing and how good they do their job. They should not need personal information, just how well they are doing their job is what is important.

Electronic surveillance in the workplace is a major threat to your right to privacy (Privacy in America). Digital machines have proven capable of processing a good amount of information, which most of the information is personal. Many Internet using households had concerns about online privacy. Some people even held back from doing online activities. Almost 20 percent of these internet using households said that they have experienced an online security breach or identity theft (Most Americans). 65 percent of American adults believe that there are not appropriate limits on the telephone and internet data the government collects (Madden). 55 percent of Americans support the idea of online anonymity (Madden).

93 percent of adults say that being in charge of who can get their information is important (Madden). 94 percent of adults say they are not very confident if not at all confident that government agencies will be able to keep their personal information and other records private and secure (Madden). 88 percent of Americans that are 18-29 years of age say that they use social media. 78 percent of Americans aging from 30-49 say they use social media. 64 percent of Americans that age from 50-64 say they use social media. Only 37 percent of Americans 65 and older use social media (Raine). Out of all these people that use social media in the United States only 9 percent are extremely confident that social media companies will protect and secure their personal data. Two-thirds of Americans believe that the current privacy laws are not good enough. 86 percent of internet users in the United States said that they have tried to take steps to be anonymous online (Raine).

Most American adults agree or strongly agree that they have lost control of how their personal information is collected and used. Personal information is personal and should not need to be collected and used. Airports should not be able to use facial scans to identify people. They can still use metal detectors and check your ID to make sure it is you. I think that facial scans are useless and a waste of money. They have proven to wrongly identify women and African Americans. Which proves that they are not working and should be banned. We should not waste money on these pointless facial scans.

Most if not all Americans don’t have privacy at work. Businesses should not need their personal information. All the business should need is what skills you have and how well you work. They should not need to have hidden cameras to spy on their workers. They should not listen in on an employee’s personal conversation. Americans say they do not wish to be observed without their approval. 88% say it is important that they not have someone watch or listen to them without their permission It is estimated that employers listen in on approximately 400 million phone calls every year (Privacy in America). The federal wiretap law forbids eavesdropping unless one person allows them to listen. Major new threats to employee privacy, such as genetic testing and clip-on microcomputers that allow an employer to track a worker’s movements electronically, are just over the horizon. Members of the American workforce are being treated like pieces of equipment.

We don’t have privacy while walking in public anymore. There are cameras everywhere. 63 percent feel it is important to be able to go around in public without always being identified. Only 34 percent believe being able to go unnoticed in public is very important and 29 percent say it is somewhat important to them. In both cases, all adults, regardless of age or gender, express comparable views.

California has finally stepped up, will other states follow. California has signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act, a firm data privacy bill. The law is likely to set the standard for other states’ data privacy. The United States does have federal data privacy laws that govern specific verticals, but it doesn’t have a single law that covers all citizens (The United States).

The biometric system has produced some success in catching people who have entered the United States illegally. Facial scans cannot be altered, but travel documents can. Senators urged to delay facial scans until it addressed the privacy and legal concerns. Facial scans snap a picture of a passenger that is leaving the United States. It then checks the person’s face with a gallery of photos maintained by customs and border Protection or the State Department. Officials say that scans of Americans were only used to verify identity, not to collect new information. I believe that they should be able to use these facial scans as long as it is in a private area and not where everyone can see (Nixon, Ron).

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Surfing the Internet is typically more like strolling on a public street than driving around in an armored car with tinted windows. That is because Web sites have the ability to view things like your Internet protocol address and where you click on a site. Likewise, sending e-mail is about as secure as sending a postcard in the mail–unless the sender uses encryption. Users who want to keep their information concealed can do so using the following technologies. This method of shielding information works better than government regulations because it stops sites from getting the information in the first place rather than relying on government rules, which are reactive and may not be enforced. Technologies are made to snoop, there are those that are made to protect your privacy. When you are applying for a job the employer should have to give notice to you about the company’s electric monitoring. They should have to let you know when you are being monitored. They should not monitor in the areas designed for the health or comfort of their employees. Company’s should put a ban on the data that is collected that is not related to work performance. Companies should put restrictions on the disclosure of personal data to others. If the company can’t provide this they should get fined or some sort of punishment.

Decisions on the technology and how it uses our information has and will continue to shape technological generations to come. When you are online you should try to encrypt your data. Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can read it. Encryption is so good at protecting privacy that the government had attempted numerous times to ban or weaken it. 10 percent of adults say that they have encrypted their phone calls, text messages or email (Madden). 9 percent say that they have used a service that allows them to browse the Web anonymously (Madden). Cookies are small files placed on a user’s hard drive by Web sites they visit. Cookies do not reveal any personally identifying information but can be used to track where users go on a site and where they jump to next. Web site operators use this information to determine what parts of sites are most popular so they can better serve the needs of consumers. Nevertheless, if users don’t like the idea of giving Web sites a look into their browsing habits, they can turn off cookies in their browser, or use one of the following cookie management technologies.

In 1988, employees achieved a major victory when Congress passed the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, which protected them from workplace lie detector tests under most circumstances. But in 1994, Congress failed to pass the Privacy for Consumers and Workers Act, which would have further reduced monitoring abuses. There is still much that Congress can do to strengthen privacy protections for American. Enacting federal baseline legislation and establishing a data protection agency would be a good start. I don’t believe that Congress is doing everything in their power to protect our privacy. I think that they could be doing more to satisfy our privacy needs. I believe that they could care less about Americans privacy. Privacy policies have fast become an industry standard, and companies are quickly going beyond such policies to hire Chief Privacy Officers and subject themselves to privacy audits. Chief Privacy Officers are responsible for working with industry on self-regulatory issues as well as making sure the company is following its stated privacy policy.

We can do some things that will protect our privacy, but we can’t do much. The main thing we can do is learn more about the issue. We need much more privacy at work, airports and many other places. I don’t think that we are asking for too much. We need to keep our personal information secure and private. Businesses don’t need our private information they just need to know stuff related to how they work. Businesses don’t need to hire people based on their personal information.

These are my views on American privacy and some things that need to be fixed. Congress can do more to make our privacy more secure. They are not doing everything that they can in my opinion. Most Americans would most likely agree that Congress can do more. Americans are upset by this and want more.

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