Computer and Privacy

Privacy is not easily defined because what one person feels like it is private, another person may feel that it is not1. Privacy is an issue which has been in existence for a very long time. Long before computers were invented. After the invention of computers privacy has become faster and more efficient. It is the people who decide to maintain privacy or not. Privacy is a problem which people are facing in this computer times and people are blaming technology for the present privacy problems forgetting that this is a problem which existed long before and it is caused by the people not the computers1.
The reason as to why computers are being blamed for the privacy problems is because they are making access to information very easy. With computers one can easily collect information from various sources and create a profile indicating what different people do, buy or even go. Once this profile is in the computers, it can be easily accessed internally through the internet1. Unlike in the past where some records could only be accessed by going through so many document in a regional office, in the computer era information like voter registration, property ownership, marriage, divorce, birth, death and arrest records can be accessed by people globally through computer networks. The problem arises because this information can be used in different ways even some which may be harmful to the particular individuals. There has been a lot of gathering of information about people online and this information is used for advertisement. Due to this, people have been concerned about their privacy. Privacy is the right of every person and each individual has the right to know the reason as to why personally identifiable information is stored and used.
Databases have been found to collect personal data and place it in computer networks hence can be viewed worldwide1. Sometimes, the information is collected even without the consent of the owner. For business people, information about their shopping habits, health status can be available to creditors, employers, landlords, insurers, law enforcement agencies or even criminals through computer databases. This to some extend is violating personal privacy and it also dangerous because there are individuals who are looking for personal information for ill motives. Another issue of privacy through collection of this information is that, those who are collecting data may put it in a way that it produces a totally different picture from who you are1.
Computers have violated the privacy at work because they can be installed in a way that the boss can monitors what the employees are doing even if it is their personal matters provided they are within the workplace2. With the use of digital record keeping, the employer can view everything the employees are doing. Therefore in workplace there is privacy any more and employee need to be a little bit careful with what they do. In addition to this, computer surveillance can also be used where employers monitor each and everything their employees are doing. This is meant to ensure that employees are not involved in any illegal activity. Therefore, the privacy at work place is no longer there since employees are closely monitored and everything they do can be seen2.
Sometimes this monitoring is meant to improve security issues, and improve performance among the employees. However this may make the employees feel that their privacy is being interfered with, making their morale low2. Gone are the days when workplace was a private place. With the invention of computers, information can be closely monitored and obtained by employers even if it concerns their personal life. This is because employers can even monitor the emails which their employees are sending. The worry arises because no one is sure how this information will be used2. Secondly, there is some information which should not be accessed by any other person because they are totally personal.
Computer has contributed to intensification of identity theft. This is a situation where one asks information using the name of another person. If the person being asked falls for the trick, they give out the information and in turn it is used for criminal purposes. There have been many computer network criminals who make their emails look so official such that every person can trust them. An individual can pretend to be a client or an agent of a particular company. He/she asks for very vital information like social security numbers, street addresses and bank account numbers. If there is no suspicion at all, this information can be given and later used for robbery dealings.
Identity theft is one of most growing crimes more than any other. The reason as to why this crime is increasing is because computer networks have personal and organizational information which can be easily accessed3. It is advisable that any personal identifiable information must be protected. The protection of this information has not been very good making criminals to have access to it and use it for robberies. It is very harmful for the person whose identity is stolen because they can be charged with crimes which they did not commit. It is the responsibility of every person or organization to ensure that its personal identifiable information cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons3. Identity theft is something which has been in existence even before the discovery of computers. However, with the invention of computers identity theft has become easier because information is readily and easily accessible. It can happen easily because even an employee of a particular company steal information and give it individuals who are willing to commit the identity theft crime3.
Encryption is process by which data is converted from its original form to a form called ciphertext which cannot be understood by any other person except those who were involved in its conversion. We have talked about so many issues by which computers have lead to lose of privacy of data. However computers can also be used to protect data through encryption. It can be used as one way of protecting personal identifiable information4. Information is converted from its original form to an extend that only authorized persons can access it4. That is unauthorized persons cannot understand this information however much they try. However, the same computers can be used for decryption such that the information is converted to its original form. As important as it may seem, it should be done in such a way that it protects public safety and national safety4.
However, decryption can only be done by those who converted the information. In this case, we can identify how computers can be used to protect an organization’s data. All databases, financial statements, tax reports, contacts, agreements and other personal information can be encrypted to ensure that no one else can understand it except the authorized persons4.
In conclusion, computer and privacy is one of the most crucial aspects for every individual and even organization. This is because the world is becoming more evil and individuals are looking every opportunity to get information which can assist them to be involved in robberies or even use it for evil did. Computers have come with the opportunity to access this information but at the same time, they can be used to protect it and maintain privacy.

Endnotes
1Coyle, K. (2011). Privacy. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.kcoyle.net/privacy/sld001.htm
2Schreiner, E. (2010). Policies That Affect Employee Privacy at Work. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/list_7625139_policies-affect-employee-privacy-work.html
3Koprowski, G. (2011). Computer ID theft a Growing Problem. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.pcsndreams.com/Pages/Articles/IDTheft.htm
4Department of Justice. (2010). Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/crypto.html

References

Coyle, K. (2011). Privacy. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.kcoyle.net/privacy/sld001.htm
Department of Justice. (2010). Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS). Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/cybercrime/crypto.html
Koprowski, G. (2011). Computer ID theft a Growing Problem. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.pcsndreams.com/Pages/Articles/IDTheft.htm
Schreiner, E. (2010). Policies That Affect Employee Privacy at Work. Retrieved on April 27, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/list_7625139_policies-affect-employee-privacy-work.html

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