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Impact of Computers on Society 2. Privacy and Personal Information.

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Presentation on theme: "Impact of Computers on Society 2. Privacy and Personal Information."— Presentation transcript:

1 Impact of Computers on Society 2. Privacy and Personal Information

2 Privacy Can Mean  Freedom from Intrusion – being left alone  Control of Information about Oneself  Freedom from Surveillance Being followed Being watched Being eavesdropped upon

3 Privacy versus Confidentiality  Privacy – concerns personal information that one cannot be compelled to reveal about oneself  Confidentiality – concerns information that has been entrusted to others with the understanding that it will not be revealed without permission

4 Guaranteed?  Privacy is not guaranteed by the Constitution. It is implied in the 4 th Amendment (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure).  Privacy is implied by the Declaration of Independence. Americans have the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

5 I’ll see you in court!  The right to privacy has been upheld by many court decisions. Roe v. Wade (1973) There is a right to privacy in the first trimester of pregnancy but less so in the second and third trimesters Roe v. Wade (1973) Lawrence et al. v. Texas: sodomy law struck down Lawrence et al. v. Texas Hiibel vs. Sixth District Court: can a person refuse to identify himself prior to arrest? Hiibel vs. Sixth District Court

6 Then, What is the Problem?  We need to give up some privacy in society to make it possible to interact with others.  To a certain extent we can choose how much privacy we are willing to give up.  Sometimes that choice is limited.

7 Privacy Problems  With increasing frequency we are forced to reveal more than we wish.  Individuals, organizations, businesses, and government collect and exchange information about us.

8 A Chilling Effect  “He knows!!”  What do you have to hide? Suppose someone monitored every web site you visit on the Internet?Internet Suppose there were a camera in the parking lot at work? In your living room? In the bedroom? In the bathroom?  Observation causes subtle changes in behavior  This is true in physics experiments, as well as with people

9 More Privacy Problems  “If you don’t have anything to hide…” currently has taken on political overtones.  Giving up freedom to defend freedom can result in no freedom.  "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

10 What is Personal Information  Any information from which a living individual can be identified, including… Deeds, contracts, wills, divorces, legal documents Public records Law enforcement Banking, brokerage, other financial information Purchase information Medical records, tests, treatments Travel, EZ-Pass

11 And also... Educational records Drivers’ and professional licenses Biometric data Membership rosters Rentals and leases Website logs, ISP logs Cellular phone records Example: the CVS Medication “Reminder” And more....

12 What does this have to do with computers? Where is all that data stored?  How is all that data retrieved?  How is all that data manipulated and interpreted?  How is all that data shared?

13 Privacy Act of 1974  Restricts data in federal records to what is “relevant and necessary”  Requires federal agencies to notify the public in the Federal Register  Allows people to access their records and to correct errors  Requires procedures to protect DB security  Prohibits disclosure without consent

14 Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988  Requires a review process before doing computer matching  Can be circumvented by purchasing large amounts of data from the private sector  Example: ChoicePoint, Inc.ChoicePoint, Inc.

15 Erosions of the 4 th Amendment  U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 loosened restrictions on wiretapping and surveillance  FBI may obtain credit information without a court order  Law enforcement may obtain medical records without court order

16 Privacy Act Problems  Restrictions apply only to federal government  Enforcement has been lax  Lack of oversight, checks and balances  Information is often outdated or inaccurate  Difficult to write legislation in such a rapidly evolving situation  Passed hurriedly

17 Databases  Supermarket “club” cards  Medical and insurance databases  Sex offender registry Sex offender registry  Google and other search engines  Online searches of public records  Automated Fingerprint Systems AFISAFIS  National Crime Information Center National Crime Information Center

18 The Universal Key: Your SSN  Intended in 1936 for Social Security Administration only  Required as an identifier for federal records in 1943  Used by IRS in 1961  In 1976 state and local agencies allowed to use SSN  Required in 1988 to get birth certificate  In 1996 may be used for occupational and marriage licenses  Detailed SSA timeline of SSN policy and law. Detailed SSA timeline of SSN policy and law.

19 SSN Flaws  Not unique  Social Security cards are easy to forge  Frequently not verified by the requestor  Information supplied by applicant was frequently not verified  Have been used in many situations when they should not be

20 Fishing Expeditions  Made possible in part by the SSN  Can be based on vague suspicion and uncorroborated tips  A presumption of guilt rather than innocence  Frequently involve searches of data of people not under suspicion  The problem of “inference” – computer matching, computer profiling

21 Principles of Data Collection and Retention  Collect only necessary information  Inform people when and why data are being collected  Offer a way to opt out  Provide a means for correcting errors  Provide for updating information  Establish clear security and access rules  Do not use data for purposes other than the purpose for which they were collected  Provide for timely disposal of data

22 A National ID Card  What would it be used for?  Passports, permission to work, health care?  Smart cards or biometric data  Help reduce fraud  Prevent illegal aliens  Could be used to match virtually anything about the individual

23 Your Credit Report  Obtain your free personal credit report from one of the three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion  Because the companies want you to pay, they have made it difficult to locate and use the free site. To circumvent this, go to  Search for “posted a webpage” (second paragraph) and follow the redirected link to AnnualCreditReport.com.  This site is safe. The data are protected by 256-bit encryption.  Be prepared to print out your full report, with the exception of the three-digit credit score.  Unfortunately, federal credit reporting law does not require credit reporting companies to give the score to you for free.


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