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Patriot Act: Power That Companies And The Government Has Over The Citizenry Of The United States

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This paper will explain the power that companies and the government has over the citizenry of the United States within the influence(s) and confines of the cyber world, and how our introduced bill will stop, punish, and dismantle the easy ability that corporations and the government have in violating privacy for monetary and political gain(s). With the rise of the Internet, Companies and the government have committed numerous privacy invasions. This paper will explain the negative Informational Scandals, intrusive marketing tactics, and online espionage that have happened to American Citizens and create a bill surrounding the above grievances to create a more private and secure world for said citizens.

The basis of our bill is to create a more private and protected world for people here in the United States. In the twenty-first century with the rise of the Internet, however, we’ve seen an exponential rise of privacy invasions. Internet Scandals, intrusive marketing tactics, and online espionage have all become mainstays in the world due to the globalization of the internet. All of which confirms why we need a national privacy law. This paper will explain what our privacy bill will look like, why it’s necessary, and the changes the United States is likely to see under its protections.

The Constitution of the United States contains no expressed right to privacy. –although within the Bill of rights there’s an argued assumed right to privacy — In the age of the internet there exists no national protections against harms that befell individual consumers through their experiences in using the internet. This bill seeks the garnering of expanded and expressed rights of privacy for all U.S. citizens in regards to internet usage. Its necessary adoption will serve to greater protect people from companies and the government harmfully using the internet against citizens for monetary or political gain.

For example, in 2018 it was revealed through a whistleblower that Facebook had subcontracted British Firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest users’ data without their consent. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, as it’s now known revealed that Cambridge Analytica used the data for political advertising purposes.

“The saga is significant because of the way the harvested data might have been used. It was allegedly utilized to direct messages for political campaigns supported by Cambridge Analytica, most notably Trump’s election victory and the Brexit vote… 50 million Facebook profiles were mined for data … which allowed the firm to build a software solution to help influence choices in elections” (Meredith)

This, of course, is bad because it undermines the free thought and free election process. One company (Facebook) harmfully utilized data from its customers to peddle ads that were specifically targeted to create negative discourse and discernment around the 2016 elections in the United States and the Brexit referendum to leave the European Union. The controversial outcomes of both have been lambasted by the media and the citizenry of both the U.S. and the U.K.

Our bill will put sanctions on companies in the form of fines to prevent their harmful usage of customer information. There will be additional fines if the data is proven to of been sold/processed by a second party (i.e. a subsidiary company or group) as that is the transfer of sensitive and personal user information from one company to another without the individual’s consent. Facebook and other companies caught harmfully utilizing data will be liable to class action and federal lawsuits.

Furthermore, there are other harmful invasions of privacy and security on the internet perpetrated by companies on consumers. Intrusive marketing, as its name suggests, is invasive and disregards privacy. Whether it be through personalized advertising created from a user’s search history, telemarketing calls from companies people have ordered from, or email campaigns that clog people’s virtual mailboxes with catered/influential spam, all are forms of intrusive marketing and violate personal privacy.

“Consumer resistance is a term that describes the lengths to which some people go to shield themselves from advertising they deem intrusive. consumers might record television programs so they can skip commercials, or they might provide secondary email addresses so they can limit the amount of spam they receive at their primary email address” (Mack)

If consumers are so upset enough with companies’ actions, that they warrant resistance. Then it is clear that the companies are in the wrong. Our bill will make companies mandatorily ask consumers for permission to create ads for them If a company creates a new email campaign they must ask permission/create an opt-in policy for consumers to receive electronic information. They must also allow an easy opt-out option if the consumer decides later that they are no longer interested. Companies must also maintain consumers’ personal information with sensitivity.

This bill also makes companies liable to lawsuits should they not allow for the proposed above changes. [asking the consumer for permission to advertise with ads catered specifically to them, easy opt-in policies, easy opt-out policies, and maintain consumers sensitive information]

Currently, our bill will protect user’s securities and give all of them the freedom to make their own choices in terms of product consumption. However, there exist other threats that are bill will tackle, most importantly the issue(s) of data mining. Specifically unethical data mining.

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“Data mining, or knowledge discovery from data (KDD), is the process of uncovering trends, common themes or patterns in “big data” … Data mining is primarily used by industries that cater to the consumer, like retail, financial, and marketing companies.” (Glen) All of this seems fine and ethical, using mathematics to gauge a market and then utilizing the results to better cater to a consumer base. Data mining becomes an ethical issue when the mined data is re-used for purposes other than what was originally intended. Users by shopping gave consent to learn what they were shopping for by making purchases [they had a choice to shop or not to shop]. The data of what has been purchased is fair game for companies to collect.

For instance, if a mother buys children’s Advil for her child than that data can be used by a store to analyze for trends. Stores can make observations such as what time of year that purchase was made and can see that there might be a trend in colds or allergies (colds in the fall and winter. Allergy flare-ups in the spring) and can be sure to stock extra medication in advance to make sure the supply is there for the foreseen demand. There is no ethical fault in this, the problem arises when the data from the store is then sold for reuse.

A prime example of this is Insurance companies. They’re known to collect data from many different sources. They then calculate risk and follow up by calculating premiums based on that risk. The more data they have the better they can price the risk and the more they can manage their profits. They should not be allowed to raise prices based on known seasonal sickness levels of American children. Within this example the stores’ actions in stocking medication in advance were smart, however, the secondary selling of the information for further analysis to insurance companies violates the public’s privacy as they have no informed consent. Our bill will allow for ethical data mining for the betterment of society, however, it will impose fines for the redistribution of data without first making it known to consumers that that is what they’re collecting data for. There will be additional fines based on the severity of privacy infringements and the amount of data repurposed.

Finally, and perhaps the most important reasoning behind a need for a privacy bill is to protect citizens from governmental invasions into their personal lives. The United States does have an assumed right to privacy given in the Bill of rights. The First Amendment gives one the privacy of belief, the third amendment gives one the right to a private home — through its barring of soldiers from using a home without the owner’s consent–. The fourth amendment gives one privacy against unreasonable searches, and the fifth Amendment gives one the right against self-incrimination and provides [some] privacy of personal information. All of these rights are incredibly important however they’ve protected little to no one’s privacy in the internet age.

The United States government has even worked around these rights. Stemming from congress’s attempts to secure America following 9/11 they passed the Patriot Act (2001).

“The purpose of the USA PATRIOT Act is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools” (ODNI) while well-intentioned, the Patriot Act has kept Americans inconclusively safe with its passage, controversially at the cost of freedom. It has been criticized for its allowing for the indefinite detention of foreign immigrants (particularly in and around the southern border). The expansion of law enforcement and permission is given to police to search homes and businesses without a warrant or the owner’s knowledge or consent. The Patriot Act has also expanded the use of National Security Letters, which allows for the FBI to search email, telephone, and financial records without restriction.

Edward Snowden, an NSA analyst discovered in 2013 that the government had issued surveillance programs on its citizens, and a mass warrantless collection of data showing the intimate details of people’s lives and the private communications between millions of Americans.

The Patriot Act is an egregious example of what has destroyed portions of the rights guarantees within the U.S. constitution. For these reasons of federal online espionage [spying] against the citizens of the United States this bill will repeal all aspects of the Patriot Act and by its order ask for the destruction of all data obtained in the previous twenty years through it. Retroactively annulling it and its privacy violations against Americans.

Finally, our bill Seeks to protect privacy within the same vein as other privacy granting acts. HIPPA and FERPA are federal laws already in place to protect Patients’ and Students’ rights to privacy. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Mandates standards for sensitive health care information and Requires the protection and confidentiality in handling said information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that affords parents the right to access children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have control over the disclosure of personal information from the records. When a student turns 18 years old, the rights transfer from the parents to the student. HIPPA and FERPA exist to protect one’s health and educational privacy, our bill will protect all other privacies in regards to combating companies and the government from exploiting our usage of the internet.

This bill will expand the expressed rights of privacy for all U.S. citizens in regards to internet usage. Its necessary adoption will serve to greater protect people from companies and the government using the internet against citizens for monetary or political gain.

Our bill will put sanctions on companies in the form of fines to prevent their harmful usage of customer information. The severity of such fines is determinable by the extent of which privacies have been violated and how many consumers have been exploited. Companies caught harmfully utilizing data for gain(s) will also be liable to class action and federal lawsuits.

This Bill will also dismantle the Patriot Act, its annulment will restore the loopholes it created, ensuring individuals’ liberties and securities from the governments prying eyes.

  1. Glen, S. (2019, June 3). Data Mining: Simple Definition, Uses & Techniques. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from https://www.statisticshowto.datasciencecentral.com/data-mining/.
  2. Mack, Stan. (n.d.). What Is Intrusive Marketing? Small Business – Chron.com. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/intrusive-marketing-21481.html
  3. Meredith, S. (2018, March 23). Here’s everything you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/21/facebook-cambridge-analytica-scandal-everything-you-need-to-know.html.
  4. USA PATRIOT ACT. ODNI Home. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2019, from https://www.dni.gov/index.php/who-we-are/organizations/ise/ise-archive/ise-additional-resources/2116-usa-patriot-act.

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Patriot Act: Power That Companies And The Government Has Over The Citizenry Of The United States. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/patriot-act-power-that-companies-and-the-government-has-over-the-citizenry-of-the-united-states/
“Patriot Act: Power That Companies And The Government Has Over The Citizenry Of The United States.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/patriot-act-power-that-companies-and-the-government-has-over-the-citizenry-of-the-united-states/
Patriot Act: Power That Companies And The Government Has Over The Citizenry Of The United States. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/patriot-act-power-that-companies-and-the-government-has-over-the-citizenry-of-the-united-states/> [Accessed 1 Dec. 2022].
Patriot Act: Power That Companies And The Government Has Over The Citizenry Of The United States [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/patriot-act-power-that-companies-and-the-government-has-over-the-citizenry-of-the-united-states/
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