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The Government Interference with Individuals’ Privacy on the Internet

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Technological development has had a strong impact on the way society communicates particularly with its growth in the last few years. From the invention of the telegraph and the telephone to the advent of the internet, technology has given people the tools to not only keep in touch with each other but also express their feelings and opinions to a broader audience that would otherwise have been impossible. Since the first Internet transmission on October 29, 1969, we have been deepening our dependence on digital communications. There are almost two billion users of the Internet who share opinions through electronic mail, peer-to-peer data sharing, and wireless networks. However, that enables almost unlimited access to information. “Privacy and civil liberties interest groups, and many individuals, are uncomfortable with significant increases in the government’s ability to investigate, collect information in an unfettered manner about, and regulate or otherwise interfere with, private activities on the internet” (Intelligence and National Security Alliance, 2009). This nonprofit company strives to identify, develop, and promote collaborative approaches to national security challenges. The INSA is well known within the field of surveillance, their expertise tells us that they have specialized knowledge in this topic, and can be taken as credible. As such, the interference with individuals’ privacy on the internet can both directly and indirectly limit the free development and exchange of ideas, opinions, and our future.

As such, ​when having the knowledge of being watched by the government, people tend to alter their behavior in fear of more surveillance. For creativity and the free expression of ideas, a survey conducted by PEN America in 2013 found that one in every six writers “has avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance” (Summer Lopez, 2013). PEN works to protect free expression and to defend writers and journalists who are attacked in the course of their profession. Having the ability to observe within the survey that they have published proves to us that this author and company are credible. This is due to the fact they have put themselves in this position to conclude how many journalists are afraid to publish work with their own opinions. This suggests that people alter their behavior when they are reminded that the government is watching their activities and are not able to send out their true opinion, or any opinion at most.

Though there are companies fighting for protection, people still feel at risk for publishing their own opinions. This results in the need to do it anonymously, under no name. “Often, these online cues (known as digital footprints or digital traces) are the sole information we have to form an impression of someone, particularly when he or she is a stranger, or a ‘zero acquaintance’”(Joanne Hinds and Adam Joinson, 2019). Knowing that both authors specialize in the field of digital security and traces, their expertise concludes that they both have found themselves in a position to know what they’re talking about and conclude a statement that we can find credible. By viewers taking their digital footprint off the internet, they are changing the way they express their opinions due to the fact that they are going under no name. We often rely on our internet based judgments of others to make decisions such as who we socialize with and who we believe in. A person’s digital traces can review aspects of his or her identity, opinion, or statement. By knowing the name behind an opinion, the federal government can make an idea of the personality behind the screen. This can result in more surveillance, and fewer opinions coming from the source.

Likewise, the government is able to control the public’s opinions by letting them know that their technology is being watched. Once being reminded that what you were communicating on and about is being watched by the government, people tend to fit their opinion to a governmental norm. The level of interference and the involvement of third parties will give national authorities the possibility to take an informed conversation that complies with the fundamental rights of the individual as well as a principle of personality. The EU SURVEILLE project considers a surveillance technology to be effective when it “has the technological capacity to deliver the intended security goals, and when employed for a defined goal within the necessary context (good location, trained operators, a large security system, etc.) achieved the intended outcome” (Coen van Gulijik, Simone Sillem, Michelle Cayford, 2013). Due to spending the time of carrying out their own unique experiment, their ability to observe proves to us that they are credible because they have put themselves into a position where they could get the statistics face-to-face.

Understanding that there is an authority over individuals’ opinions, the government has the ability to convey planned security objectives by controlling what is shared between many writers and journalists. In this case, Edward Snowden was an IT systems expert working under contract for the National Security Agency when he traveled to provide journalists with top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies’ surveillance of American citizens. ​“What I wasn’t expecting was that the United States government itself … would cancel my passport” (David Davies, 2019). Snowden has the first-hand experience of what he is talking about. He has lived with the rules, the information and more that corresponds with his old career, making it noticeable that he has an ability to observe in this field. We can see that the government is able to control his spreading of information due to the fact that his passport was blocked. This shows us that the government is controlling the spread of his information because they are resisting him from expressing his opinion on others. The government was able to identify what was being communicated and stopped it as a whole.

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To control this, cybersecurity could warn and contain a mechanism for developing responses to problems as or before they develop. This is due to the fact that researchers on this topic have a vested interest within this field. By having their career composed of researching this topic, they are credible. They argue that “many individuals are uncomfortable with significant increases in the government’s ability to investigate, collect information” (Ellen McCarthy, Charles E. Allen, Stephen Cambone, Robert Farrell, Barbara Fast, Robert Gourley, Robert Pate, John Russack, Lou Von Thaer, Michael Karpovich, 2009). This could be a possible solution into stopping the fear of expressing your own opinions.

Furthermore, the knowledge of your actions being watched on the internet has caused people to turn on the source of surveillance, ending some in jail, or a closer watch on personal data. “The U.K. Home Secretary stated that communications data was used in 95% of criminal cases. Similarly, Omand characterizes communications data as “a very important investigative tool” in terrorist trials” (Cayford, Michelle; Pieters, Wolter, 2018). The U.K. Home Secretary is a high profile position and stated to be recognized as one of the most prestigious and important roles in the British Cabinet. The repetition of this position can prove to us that due to being so widely known, and having a very high position in the government, we are able to take these statistics into consideration due to the fact that it is credible. As stated, in many trials using the data taken from the surveillance over the Internet, the way one expresses his or her opinions could be used against them when taken into court.

Nevertheless, this may connect to new sources during the time of political activity. Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times, stated in 2013 that “surveillance has put a chill on really what’s a healthy discourse between journalist and our sources and its sources who risk going to prison” (Jillian York, 2014). She explains that during the time of elections, publishing their own opinions and using evidence put some at risk for prison. Their publishers, as she mentions risk going to prison and publishing these news articles. Having the knowledge of the outcomes of publishing something that would be watched by the government, people may hold back on their opinions or post it in fear. This may also affect the readers knowing how much trouble they are going through, or if they should take it into consideration.

As stated, authors begin to publish their works unanimously to have the ability to spread their ideas with no fear of punishment by the federal government. Google’s Eric Schmidt also agrees that ‘the solution to government surveillance is to encrypt everything (Joe Hagan and Anne Marie SqueoStaff, 2019). By being known in his field of work, former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt can be proven credible through his vested interest. He has served on various boards in academia and industry, showing that he has put himself into a position to get this information through his work.

Julian Assange, is a publisher who founded WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes encrypted news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Assange was accused of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion with the intention of gaining privileged information in order for it to be published on WikiLeaks. The publication of this article, including the hacked information, garnered this particular publisher a maximum sentence of 5-years. Some people believe that inorder to express their ideas anonymously, they need to use encrypted sources. However, the Assange case proves that the government is capable of gaining your information whether encrypted or not.

In conclusion, individual privacy in regards to publishing on the internet limits the exchange of ideas and opinions because of government accessibility. After the new age of technology, communication and surveillance has grown throughout the world into something with consequences. For example, it results in changes in behavior, media control over public opinion, the want to fight back and more. Over all, government surveillance over technology has an effect on everyday activities including social media, journalism and TV.

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The Government Interference with Individuals’ Privacy on the Internet. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-government-interference-with-individuals-privacy-on-the-internet/
“The Government Interference with Individuals’ Privacy on the Internet.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-government-interference-with-individuals-privacy-on-the-internet/
The Government Interference with Individuals’ Privacy on the Internet. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-government-interference-with-individuals-privacy-on-the-internet/> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2022].
The Government Interference with Individuals’ Privacy on the Internet [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-government-interference-with-individuals-privacy-on-the-internet/
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