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ethical issues, challenges, and dilemmas that have arisen due to technological advances of law enforcement on personal privacy. Addressed are the major pro and con viewpoints of economically, politically, individually, and socially.
Eight sources. APA.
Privacy and Technology
Big Brother is definitely here. Just the other day the news reported that the average American is photographed nine to twelve times per day. Cameras are everywhere. People are photographed while they are driving to and from work, while they are parking their cars, entering their place of employment, and if the company is any size other than a mom and pop shop, they are watched at work. Whether one is making a deposit at the bank, buying groceries at the local grocery chain, gas at the 7-11 store, or browsing books at the library, they are being not only watched, but photographed. From the smallest market to the largest mall, every store and parking lot is equipped with security video cameras. Run a red light or speed down the highway, and one is apt to receive a ticket by mail via the electronic eye that photographed the car, license number and occupants. There is literally no place that is sacred from prying eyes, save the sanctuary of one's own home, and even that is questionable. If one is a computer user, his or her Web surfing habits and emails may be randomly monitored. The truth is that what the local video cameras do not pick up, satellites orbiting the globe from space will.
All of this is done in the name of security and safety. But is the average citizen really safer crossing a parking lot at night? Is the crime rate down from ten years ago? Are there fewer wars? Does society really need to have its every move monitored and photographed in the name of safety and security?
With the technology and communications revolution, it has become harder and harder to keep a secret, particularly from law enforcement. Officials in the Justice Department say this new technology is aiding them in catching more criminals. However, many, especially civil libertarians say that it is a growing threat to everyone's privacy (Jackson 1999). James X. Dempsey of a privacy rights group says, "When law enforcement and privacy clash, law enforcement usually wins" (Jackson 1999). Justice Department and FBI officials claim both issues are of equal concern to them. However, the continual advancement in communications technology makes it easier every day to "tap cell phone, intercept computer messages and collect and analyze all sorts of financial and personal information" (Jackson 1999). Moreover, "tools now exist to see through walls in the dark of night, or to view crime scenes from satellites circling the earth" (Jackson 1999). John Bentivoglio, the Justice Department's chief privacy officer, says that law enforcement are not the only one using computers. Criminals use technology to steal identities and bank accounts and the department is urging for new laws to aide in prosecuting cybercrooks (Jackson 1999).
Critics, however, are suspicious and concerned, as politicians and judges encourage increased surveillance due to terrorism and violent crime. Director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union says, "It's sort of the classic case of asking people to surrender their civil liberties in the name of security" (Jackson 1999).
Many are concerned about the new roving wiretap policies, complaining that the new authority gives the FBI access to far too many innocent conversations. Although, authorities claim these powers help them combat terrorism and drug rings, critics fear the targets will expand beyond terrorist suspects and potentially 'scary people' (Jackson 1999). Another concern is that phone companies are not allowed to tell customers the FBI is tapping their conversations, although the government must notify targets thirty days after the tap is removed. Moreover, under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, the telecommunications industry is required to help law enforcement officials, including American intelligence agencies, adapt to new digital and wireless technologies, such as fiber-optic cable. Today when a person places a call, "carries record which cell or transmitter are the call is coming from... The name of the caller, the number called and the length of the call" (). All of this information is logged for billing purposes, however, with a court order, this data can be released to police, giving them a record of someone's movement. In 1999, "Federal Communications Commission issued an order that could turn every cell phone in the country into a homing beacon that law enforcement could use to track the general location of criminal suspects" (Schwartz 1999). On the market now, are the new handheld 'personal locator beacons,' used as emergency devices, signal satellites, which relay the call through a control center in Suitland, Maryland. Officials say it basically takes the 'search' out of rescue (Ho 2002). However, many fear that this handheld device will soon be attached to cell phones, thereby monitoring someone's every move. The Justice Department is also seeking help with encryption, "the ability to scramble computer data so eavesdroppers can't read it" (Jackson 1999). In other words, the FBI wants the power to demand the use of private encryption keys. Privacy advocates as well as the computer companies, say this is an invitation to abuse (Jackson 1999).
Since September 11th, airport security has increased dramatically. No one can argue that this is not a good thing, however, many feel that screening has gone just a little too far. This past spring, Orlando International became one of the first airports to test the next-generation security checkpoint devices. The bottom line, the scanner can see through clothes, leaving nothing to the imagination (Branom 2002). Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, chairwoman of the Florida Domestic Security Advisory Panel expressed that this is assurance that people will feel safe and secure when going through the airports. Tom Jensen of Safe Skies, said the technology is some of the most advanced in the world. Says Jensen, "A few years ago, a whole roomful of machinery had the same kind of power that you little laptop has today...same thing's going to happen with all this...equipment easier to install, lighter weight, taking up less space to do the same job" (Branom 2002). The checkpoint features six security systems, three for passengers and three for carry-on luggage. The Rapiscan Secure 1000, uses low-energy x-rays to search through clothing and the outline of the body, every inch of it, is clearly visible. Security officials say that the scanner will only be used when a passenger shows an 'anomaly' and the security worker examining the scan will be the same sex as the person being scanned (Branom 2002). When asked about the potential complaints regarding the invasiveness of the search, project manager Bryan Allman, said, "Everybody has to learn that the world has changed since Sept.11, and the world needs much more thorough type of screening" (Branom 2002). However, not everyone agrees, such as Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union, who says the scan is too intrusive and moreover, is a virtual strip-search. "There is no question this has tremendous potential for embarrassment" says Steinhardt (Branom 2002). He pointed to incidents across the country where male security workers have harassed female passengers during hands-on searchers, and believes that if abuses are occurring with less-invasive searches, the potential for indiscriminate use of the new scanners is great. Another system, the Barringer Ionscan 400B, that is a little larger than a phone booth, blows quick burst of air at a person, then sniffs the air to detect any traces of explosives and up to sixty types of drug residue. Mayor Hood praised this as a bonus stemming from the war on terrorism, saying "...we're always looking for the opportunity to deal with that war as well" (Branom 2002).
However, Steinhardt and others question the idea of turning airport security peroannel into the DEA, and believe that the searching for drugs would simply distract checkpoint workers from their true purpose of keeping the planes safe (Branom 2002).
For years, conspiracy theorists and civil liberties activists have touted the existence of Echelon, only to be told by every country that it did not exist. However, last year, overwhelming evidence surfaced. According to a Parliamentary report drafted by Gerhard Schmid (PES, Germany), "Echelon is part of a club set up by secret treaty in 1947, whereby the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, divided the world between them to share the product of global eavesdropping" (EU 2001). During the investigation, members looked at statements from former intelligence service member, who made strong claims about the potential scope of Echelon's activities. The five countries exchange intercepts using supercomputers to identify key words. Foreign intelligence services gather economic data, such as details of "developments in individual sectors of the economy, developments in commodity markets, compliance with economic embargoes, observance of rules on supplying dual-use goods, etc." (EU 2001). This is basically industrial espionage. As for the legality of the system, if it…[continue]
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