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We Cannot Permit Infringements on Privacy Essay

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George Orwell foresees a nightmarish-future for the world in his book 1984, where individualism loses precedence to "the good of society," and with it goes the individual's private life. "The [controlling] Party" in the socialist government knows the intimate details of all citizens, and prosecutes those who violate social orders through threatening speech, behavior or thoughts. The omnipresent visual warning "Big Brother is Watching You,” reminds citizens that no personal information is safe from the "Thought Police." While this may seem far-fetched to some, Orwell envisioned technology facilitating government's abuse of power in 1950; in the twenty-first century, progress has left one's private life susceptible to interested parties in both the public and private sectors. In 1997, Ralph Nader cautioned, "The people are not organized not equipped with the knowledge, tools or skills to confront the invasions of the self they can see, let alone the far greater, more subterranean kinds of surveillance" (viii). With the rise of computers to their current capabilities, collecting, storing, accessing and sharing personal data has become easier than ever before: governments and companies no longer keep files of paper records on individuals, which accessing, stealing or sharing would be too arduous a task, but rather electronic databases that they can easily create, access and link. Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy note in their book The Right to Privacy, "From a privacy point of view, we are in the midst of the most unsettling period in [the computer] revolution" (326). Computers do not threaten personal privacy, though, nor violate any right granted to Americans: the word 'privacy' does not appear in the Constitution, nor does the p...


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...rmation Center. “Double Trouble with the DoubleClick/Abacus Merger.” March 21, 2000.
McWilliams, Brian. “Netscape Navigator Browser Snoops on Searches.” Newsbytes. March 7, 2002.
"Finding Pay Dirt in Scannable Driver's Licenses.” New York Times, March 21, 2002: http://www.privacy.org
Nicholson, Jonathan. “Account Info Sought to Combat Terror.” Reuters, February 26, 2002.
Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Bill Track.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Analysis of the Provisions of the USA Patriot Act.” October 31, 2002. American Civil Liberties Union. “USA Patriot Act Boosts Government Powers While Cutting Back on Traditional Checks and Balances.” November 1, 2002.

Additional Sources “Freedom of Speech, The EU Data Protection Directive and the Swedish Personal Data Act.” June 9, 2000.
Online Privacy Alliance. “Privacy Initiatives by the Private Sector.”


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