Digital Rights and Online Privacy

Posted July 25th, 2012 at 9:06 am (UTC-4)
1 comment

computer privacy

Is your online privacy in peril?


Ross Slutsky | Washington DC

Over the past few months, many tech observers have become wary of the direction that online privacy and digital rights seem to be headed.

During the debates surrounding the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), many worried about the new information the National Security Agency (NSA) would be able to access and about what safeguards would be in place to assure that the information accessed was appropriate.  Earlier this month, various news outlets reported that police in the United States requested the phone data from over 1.3 million cellphone users in 2011.

Earlier this year, in oral arguments for United States v. Jones, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito gave an eloquent description of the privacy issues we collectively face: “[i]n the pre-computer, pre-Internet age, much of the privacy… that people enjoyed was not the result of legal protections or constitutional protections; it was the result simply of the difficulty of traveling around and gathering up information.”

Today, via requests to mobile carriers, law enforcement officials have an unprecedented ability to gather information about citizens, and privacy laws have not yet caught up with the rapid pace of innovation.  The dangers of infringement are very real and have been documented on multiple occasions.

Granted, many are hard at work to address these problems.  Earlier this year, the Obama administration released a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights and many advocacy groups signed onto the Declaration of Internet Freedom.

But what is the scope of online rights?  What does Internet Freedom even mean?  How do we weigh the competing interests of various stakeholders with conflicting visions for the future of the web?

On Wednesday, July 25th (tomorrow), Digital Frontiers will be live-tweeting from an event hosted by the New America Foundation titled Transatlantic Perspectives on Digital Rights and Online Privacy.

We welcome your opinion on the subject.  What are your biggest concerns about online privacy? Tweet us your thoughts at @dfrontiers and we’ll share your questions and opinions with representatives of the likes of Public Knowledge, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and other organizations working on privacy issues. And watch for our live updates on from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM EST.

One response to “Digital Rights and Online Privacy”

  1. It’s a scary issue. With crimes that have been committed, DNA is analyzed to see if there is a match with someone who has previously been arrest in a data bank. But the whole concept here is that law enforcement are constantly pushing to create a data base of everyone, regardless of whether you have committed a crime or not. It’s true that we MAY be able to prevent crimes in this manner or address them quickly, but what about the 98% or so of people who are upstanding citizens? It’s a tough call.

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What’s Digital Frontiers?

The Internet, mobile phones, tablet computers and other digital devices are transforming our lives in fundamental and often unpredictable ways. “Digital Frontiers” investigates how real world concepts like privacy, identity, security and freedom are evolving in the virtual world.

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July 2012
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