Privacy and Information Technology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
The amount of personal information collected is increasing. It is increasingly easy to know "more" about others without their knowledge or consent. Technology creates new possibilities for the invasion of privacy and other problems which . in inter-personal relations, doled out and exchanged as relationships progress. They certainly do not want their personal information to be . In discussing the relationship of privacy matters with technology, the notion of. Your GPS system keeps track of your movements, and your smart TV or webcam Almost all the information these devices collect can be sold to companies or used about specific technologies and their relationship to privacy and security.
Privacy can help provide the solitude and peace necessary to mental health and creativity in a dynamic society. Here it is a question of control over what is taken in, rather than what is given out.
There is a broader, all encompassing symbolic meaning of practices that protect privacy. Such practices say something about what a nation stands for and are vital to individualism. By contrast, a thread running through all totalitarian systems from the prison to the authoritarian state is lack of respect for the individual's right to control information about the self.
It has been said that the mark of a civilization can be seen in how it treats its prisoners, it might also be seen in how it treats personal privacy. Of particular importance are the strong political implications of the topic. A thread running through all totalitarian systems, from the prison to the authoritarian state, is denying the individual the right to control information about the self.
It has been said that a civilization's nature can be seen in how it treats its prisoners. It might also be seen in how it treats personal privacy. Privacy is a value which may only be appreciated once it is lost.
It is important that individuals be made aware of what is at stake and what there rights are.
Information privacy - Wikipedia
It is not a foregone conclusion that technology will develop in such a way as to reduce the power of the individual relative to large organizations and the state, although the forces favoring this tend to be stronger than those opposing it.
Schools and religious organizations should deal more directly with what the individual's rights are with respect to means such as third party records, computer dossiers, drug testing, and the polygraph.
It is important that citizens act back and ask organizations about their information policies. Assertions such as "the computer says" or "that is the policy" must lead to questions such as "is the computer reliable?
What moral and legal assumptions underlie it?
What alternatives are there? How was the data gathered? How is it protected and used? It is also important that the technology be demystified and that citizens not attribute to it powers that it doesn't have. There is a chilling danger in the "myth of surveillance" when the power of information technology is oversold.
On the other hand, when technologies are revealed to be less powerful than authorities claim, legitimacy declines. There should be truth in communications policies, just as we have truth in advertising and loan policies. The potentials and limits of the technology must be understood. Yet in noting the social functions of privacy this is certainly not to deny that privacy taken to an extreme can be harmful. Or that privacy will never conflict with other important values such as the public's right to know and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or accountability, health, security, and productivity.
Unlimited privacy is hardly an unlimited good. It can shield irresponsible behavior -- protecting child and spouse abusers, unsafe drivers, and money launderers.
Taken too far it destroys community. Without appropriate limitations it can trigger backlash, as citizens engage in unregulated self-help and direct action. The private subversion of public life carries dangers as well as the public intrusion into private life. Contemporary information extractive technologies can of course also be used to protect liberty, privacy and security.What Does Google Know About You? Protecting Your Privacy with Google in 2018
Without the incriminating tapes secretly recorded by President NixonWatergate would have remained a case of breaking and entering; without the Xerox machine the Pentagon papers might never have reached the public; and without the back-up computer records kept in NSC files which Oliver North thought he had erased, we would know far less about the Iran-Contra affair.
Aerial surveillance can monitor compliance with pollution standards and help to verify arms control treaties. Tiny transmitters can help locate lost children or skiers caught in an avalanche.
Devices that permit fire fighters to see through smoke may save lives.
Remote health monitors can protect the elderly living alone in one form an alarm is sent if a day goes by without the refrigerator being opened. But elements of a Greek tragedy are also present. The technology's unique power is also its tragic flaw. What serves can also destroy, absent increased public awareness and new public policies. With a topic as complicated and changing as this one, it is easier to ask the right questions than to come up with the right answers. The two appendices list some questions which might be asked about the new technologies.
Information Age Techno-Fallacies The belief that privacy is not important and should matter only to those who have something to hide is one of a large number of what I see as tarnished silver-bullet "information age techno-fallacies" the silver bullet image refers to an American popular culture figure "The Lone Ranger" who always left the locals with a silver bullet as he rode off into the sunset, having subdued the bad guys.
Privacy is affected not only by laws, customs and a constant dialectic between privacy invading and privacy protecting technologies, but the cultural assumptions that underlie attitudes about technologies.
As an ethnographer, in watching and listening to the rhetorics around information technology, I often hear things that simply sound wrong to me, much as a musician hears things that are off key. A sampling of such techno-fallacies: Others are normative fallacies and will be rejected only when there is agreement about the values, or value priorities on which they are based. But even here, I think the values that I am expressing are central to American and western society.
Table I lists 30 techno-fallacies. In this limited space I will comment on only some of them. The fallacy of the free lunch or painless dentistry, a frequent assumption of the techno-boostersis that a technical change will involve only benefits and no costs. Therefore it must be adopted since it is basically free. Of course this is nonsense-- there are no free meals and your teeth may hurt when the novocaine wears off. If nothing else a given use of resources involves forgone opportunity costs.
The resources might have been used for some other purpose. The fallacy of quantification is particularly important in the United States where policy setting tends to be dominated by economists and lawyers. It's important to realize that there are values that can't be measured by bottom lines and market-driven phenomena. The fallacy of the short run speaks for itself. There's a wonderful story about a farmer who was having a hard time making ends meet.
It worked-- he saved a lot of money. He then said "hey, this is great, I'm going to cut their feed in half" and he saved even more money. And of course he kept on reducing their feed and you know what happened. The legalistic fallacy is often expressed by advocates of a technology. The basic idea is that if you have a legal right to do something, it therefore must be the right thing to do. But we ought to start with the law and not stop with it.
The fact that a practice is legal, sometimes because it is too new to have resulted in restrictive legislation, or because power differentials prevent thatdoes not mean that it is right or wise. The pragmatic or efficiency fallacy holds that the most important thing is whether or not the technology gets the job done. But there is more to collective life than pragmatism. Certainly given scarce resources and a scientific ethos, we must ask that question.
But again an affirmative answer shouldn't lead to the automatic unleashing of the technology and the overruling of other competing values.
Values that are difficult to measure rarely receive adequate attention at conferences which are inspired by a particular innovation or problem.
Pragmatism must be weighed along side of other values such as fairness, equity, and the external costs imposed on third parties. The fallacy of the lowest common denominator morality assumes that if your side doesn't use the technology your opponents will, giving them an unfair advantage. A common fallacy is to assume that personal information whether deduced from broader aggregate data or collected from a particular individual is simply another commodity.
It is believed that if you are able to gain access to the data, it's yours to use as you wish. But personal information has a special quality, something that's almost sacred. It is the not the same as raw materials or office furniture. Europe has recognized this to a greater extent than has the United States. There's the fallacy of assuming that the facts speak for themselves. But the "facts" are socially generated and interpreted. Any human knowledge, no matter how powerful and useful, is always abstracted out and partial.
It is only a sample or a fraction of what might be attended to. Alternative information or a fuller picture might suggest a different meaning.
To adequately interpret, we need a context and a broader picture. When you apply acontextual data to human beings you run terrible risks of error and injustice in particular cases although in the abstract the system may be rational. Now to deal with broader context, of course, you have to have more data and that requires more money.
This leads to another and in some ways opposed fallacy: This equation of bigger with better is particularly strong in the United States.
It is no doubt related to capitalism and has a gender component. It is simply not necessarily true that if only we spend more money and create more powerful technologies that things will improve.
Data that is used to secure other information, such as passwords, are not considered here. Although such security measures may contribute to privacy, their protection is only instrumental to the protection of other information, and the quality of such security measures is therefore out of the scope of our considerations here. A relevant distinction that has been made in philosophical semantics is that between the referential and the attributive use of descriptive labels of persons van den Hoven Personal data is defined in the law as data that can be linked with a natural person.
There are two ways in which this link can be made; a referential mode and a non-referential mode. In this case, the user of the description is not—and may never be—acquainted with the person he is talking about or wants to refer to. If the legal definition of personal data is interpreted referentially, much of the data about persons would be unprotected; that is the processing of this data would not be constrained on moral grounds related to privacy or personal sphere of life.
Unrestricted access by others to one's passwords, characteristics, and whereabouts can be used to harm the data subject in a variety of ways. Personal data have become commodities. Individuals are usually not in a good position to negotiate contracts about the use of their data and do not have the means to check whether partners live up to the terms of the contract.
Data protection laws, regulation and governance aim at establishing fair conditions for drafting contracts about personal data transmission and exchange and providing data subjects with checks and balances, guarantees for redress. Informational injustice and discrimination: Personal information provided in one sphere or context for example, health care may change its meaning when used in another sphere or context such as commercial transactions and may lead to discrimination and disadvantages for the individual.
Encroachment on moral autonomy: Lack of privacy may expose individuals to outside forces that influence their choices. These formulations all provide good moral reasons for limiting and constraining access to personal data and providing individuals with control over their data. The basic moral principle underlying these laws is the requirement of informed consent for processing by the data subject.
Furthermore, processing of personal information requires that its purpose be specified, its use be limited, individuals be notified and allowed to correct inaccuracies, and the holder of the data be accountable to oversight authorities OECD Because it is impossible to guarantee compliance of all types of data processing in all these areas and applications with these rules and laws in traditional ways, so-called privacy-enhancing technologies and identity management systems are expected to replace human oversight in many cases.
The challenge with respect to privacy in the twenty-first century is to assure that technology is designed in such a way that it incorporates privacy requirements in the software, architecture, infrastructure, and work processes in a way that makes privacy violations unlikely to occur. Typically, this involves the use of computers and communication networks.
The amount of information that can be stored or processed in an information system depends on the technology used. The capacity of the technology has increased rapidly over the past decades, in accordance with Moore's law.
This holds for storage capacity, processing capacity, and communication bandwidth. We are now capable of storing and processing data on the exabyte level. These developments have fundamentally changed our practices of information provisioning. Even within the academic research field, current practices of writing, submitting, reviewing and publishing texts such as this one would be unthinkable without information technology support. At the same time, many parties collate information about publications, authors, etc.
This enables recommendations on which papers researchers should read, but at the same time builds a detailed profile of each individual researcher. The rapid changes have increased the need for careful consideration of the desirability of effects. Some even speak of a digital revolution as a technological leap similar to the industrial revolution, or a digital revolution as a revolution in understanding human nature and the world, similar to the revolutions of Copernicus, Darwin and Freud Floridi In both the technical and the epistemic sense, emphasis has been put on connectivity and interaction.
Physical space has become less important, information is ubiquitous, and social relations have adapted as well. As connectivity increases access to information, it also increases the possibility for agents to act based on the new sources of information. When these sources contain personal information, risks of harm, inequality, discrimination, and loss of autonomy easily emerge. For example, your enemies may have less difficulty finding out where you are, users may be tempted to give up privacy for perceived benefits in online environments, and employers may use online information to avoid hiring certain groups of people.
Furthermore, systems rather than users may decide which information is displayed, thus confronting users only with news that matches their profiles.
Although the technology operates on a device level, information technology consists of a complex system of socio-technical practices, and its context of use forms the basis for discussing its role in changing possibilities for accessing information, and thereby impacting privacy.
We will discuss some specific developments and their impact in the following sections.
Privacy and Information Technology
The World Wide Web of today was not foreseen, and neither was the possibility of misuse of the Internet.
Social network sites emerged for use within a community of people who knew each other in real life—at first, mostly in academic settings—rather than being developed for a worldwide community of users Ellison It was assumed that sharing with close friends would not cause any harm, and privacy and security only appeared on the agenda when the network grew larger.
Similarly, features of social network sites embedded in other sites e. Previously, whereas information would be available from the web, user data and programs would still be stored locally, preventing program vendors from having access to the data and usage statistics. In cloud computing, both data and programs are online in the cloudand it is not always clear what the user-generated and system-generated data are used for.
Moreover, as data is located elsewhere in the world, it is not even always obvious which law is applicable, and which authorities can demand access to the data.
Data gathered by online services and apps such as search engines and games are of particular concern here. Which data is used and communicated by applications browsing history, contact lists, etc.
Some special features of Internet privacy social media and Big Data are discussed in the following sections. The question is not merely about the moral reasons for limiting access to information, it is also about the moral reasons for limiting the invitations to users to submit all kinds of personal information. Users are tempted to exchange their personal data for the benefits of using services, and provide both this data and their attention as payment for the services.
Merely limiting the access to personal information does not do justice to the issues here, and the more fundamental question lies in steering the users' behavior of sharing. One way of limiting the temptation of users to share is requiring default privacy settings to be strict. Also, such restrictions limit the value and usability of the social network sites themselves, and may reduce positive effects of such services.
A particular example of privacy-friendly defaults is the opt-in as opposed to the opt-out approach. When the user has to take an explicit action to share data or to subscribe to a service or mailing list, the resulting effects may be more acceptable to the user.
This is not only data explicitly entered by the user, but also numerous statistics on user behavior: Data mining can be employed to extract patterns from such data, which can then be used to make decisions about the user. These may only affect the online experience advertisements shownbut, depending on which parties have access to the information, they may also impact the user in completely different contexts.
In particular, Big Data may be used in profiling the user Hildebrandtcreating patterns of typical combinations of user properties, which can then be used to predict interests and behavior. These derivations could then in turn lead to inequality or discrimination. When a user can be assigned to a particular group, even only probabilistically, this may influence the actions taken by others. For example, profiling could lead to refusal of insurance or a credit card, in which case profit is the main reason for discrimination.
Profiling could also be used by organizations or possible future governments that have discrimination of particular groups on their political agenda, in order to find their targets and deny them access to services, or worse.
Big Data does not only emerge from Internet transactions. Similarly, data may be collected when shopping, when being recorded by surveillance cameras in public or private spaces, or when using smartcard-based public transport payment systems. All these data could be used to profile citizens, and base decisions upon such profiles.
Much higher returns were generated on questions of tracking, conversation monitoring, and the sale of data for advertising. Women were more concerned overall with identity and location tracking. A variety of digital issues disproportionately affects womenwhich include stalking and location tracking by ill-intentioned people.
Where men took more issue than women: It can be disconcerting to look up a new fridge only to find your Facebook and news sites flooded with appliance advertisements the next morning.
Not to mention the annoyance of a sluggish website bogged down by advertisements. Privacy Through The Ages Different generations have different relationships with technology and, as such, have different concerns about specific technologies and their relationship to privacy and security.
Those 65 and older appeared to be very distrustful of technology, recording higher levels of concern than younger generations in almost every field.
Those in the age bracket of all found location tracking, home security, and smart device privacy issues to be the most threatening. People who fell in this age group appeared to be the least distrustful of fitness tracking devices, although they still disliked them more than younger generations.
From age 18 to 44, the data trends looked rather similar. A uniform distrust of social media existed, but they regarded smart thermostats, fitness trackers, and public surveillance as less of an issue than older generations. Younger age groups may be less concerned than others about these issues because they trust businesses to keep their data secure. On the other hand, they seem to be warier of home and smart car security.
Interestingly, to year-olds recorded their highest level of concern was home security. The Vice of All Devices Each device we use possesses a unique capability to compromise our privacy.
Two of the top three issues involved being watched and tracked by cameras. Most people were very uncomfortable with the eerie prospect of being spied on through cameras on their TVs, though this possibility exists in webcams and smartphone camerasas well. Interestingly, the second biggest concern involved data intrusion by anti-virus software.