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June 12, 2014

The Value of Digital Privacy in Information

We live in the age of technology. Today’s world has changed due to globalization and the technologies it has brought with it. Almost every aspect of human life has changed. Same is the case with private data.
            According to Lathrop and Gape (2013), digital privacy refers to the privacy of many aspects. Some records are personal in nature and cannot be revealed to any individual at large as the leaked data could cause harm or distress to the individual whose data has been leaked. Digital Privacy classifies data in many classes. Some of the major classes are healthcare records, criminal records and lawsuits, financial transactions and other related dealings, biological characteristics, residential address and other such information, and ethnicity. The article that follows will look into three different methods of data privacy and some laws related to this topic.
Research Citizen’s private Data
            Many techniques are available to research the private data of the public. The three discussed below and are e-science, data mining, and the open web. E-Science makes it possible for doctors to monitor the disease related personals of patients. This helps the doctors in their research to find out cures for deadly diseases like cancer and aids. The diseases that patients have must not be disclosed openly but due to this technology, all the biological traits of a patient are revealed in front of the doctor so that effective research could be conducted. This is one method of searching for the private data of citizens (Gill and Fritz, 2010).
            The second method of data research is data mining. Data mining is technique often used by the government and other such organizations like airline companies. Data mining is techniques which enables anyone to maintain large records of diverse data about many individuals. The data is in order and any individual’s data could be extracted at any time. This is mostly used by the government. Therefore, this data can be abused/ For example, it has often occurred that data input by an airline company about a specific individual was extracted by the government and used for their own motives. This is breach of privacy as data mining enabled the government to get hold of data not present with them earlier (Gill and Fritz, 2010).
            The third method of searching for citizen’s private data is the Open Web. The open web has made it possible for anyone to access large sets of records pertaining to any individual. This means that large sets of data are available on the internet in the form of easily accessible records. They can be accessed by anyone. These data include phone numbers, addresses, and other such information. Often times it is not the intention of the person who has uploaded the directory that the information is misused. Thus, this is another method through which anyone can access the private records of citizens of any country (Gill and Fritz, 2010).
Advantages and Disadvantages
            According to Young (2000), there are many advantages and disadvantages. First of all the disadvantage to the person who has lost the data would be loss of privacy. The person would not want to reveal his/her private and confidential information as the information could be misused.
            The information could also be used to gather other such information related to the individual. For example the address and name of the individual could be used to track and find out other crucial data like credit card numbers and bank account number. This data could be then abused.
            Medical information could be source of shame to the patient. For example no one would want others to know that they have cancer or aids. If the patient’s diseases are made public, then the patient might not like it and feel unaccepted in society as a whole.
            The disadvantage to the investigator is that this act could lead them to being jailed. There are laws that restrict the usage of private data and what data can be researched by what individuals. This means that investigators must be extra careful while searching for confidential information. They must also have proper permission from relevant authorities so that legal issues might not arise.
            Advantage for the person whose data is researched is that it could beneficial to the persons. Just in case of patients, the private data of patients can be used to find out cures for their own benefit.
            The advantage for the society is also present. If the government uses airline data to track criminals, then this would be beneficial for the society as a whole. Although it is breach of privacy, it is for the greater good of mankind.
Protective Measures
            According to Personal Information Protection Act (2007), there are certain ways individuals can protect their data. These include being accountable for what is being disclosed. It must also me explicitly stated that for which purpose is the data being disclosed. Consent must always be taken before disclosing any data. Collection must be on a small scale; only relevant data must be collected. The use, disclosure and retention must also be restricted. The data collected must also be accurate. Measure must be taken to safeguard the information. There must be openness regarding this issue and consensus must also be present before gathering and maintaining any data. All the people must comply with the appropriate laws as well. All these things must be considered by the people who do not want their data to be disclosed.
Federal Law
            According to Ginsberg (2013), the Freedom of Information Act gives right to anyone to gain access to any data that is available at large and any data that does not fall into any of the nine categories mentioned by in the law already. Thus this gives right to citizens to know about others and the ones they are dealing with. So it is good in a way and bad in a way as well. If used for positive purposes, like checking the background of employee before employment, is beneficial. However, if used for the purpose of stalking and disturbing the individual, then the practice of searching for private data is not acceptable.
Electronic Private Laws
            According to Doyle (2012), Electronic Communications Privacy Act states that eavesdropping through wiretapping and other such methods is against the law. Thus, without the permission of the court, no one can tap and monitor the communications of any other individual. However, if the individual has already given the permission to monitor his/her communications, then it is legal to monitor and tap the communications of the individual. These methods are not very effective. This is because once the consent is taken, then communication does not remain natural as the individual becomes aware that his/her communication is being tapped. Thus, the purpose of tapping the communication is destroyed.

Doyle, C. 2012. Privacy: An overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. CRS Report for Congress. [pdf]. Accessed 25th April 2013. Retrieved from,d.ZWU
Gil, Y., and Fritz, C. 2010. Reasoning about the appropriate use of private data through computational workflows. Spring Symposium on Intelligent Privacy Management, March. [pdf]. Accessed 25th April 2013.Retrieved from

Ginsberg, W. 2013. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Background and Policy Options for the 113th Congress. CRS Report for Congress. [pdf]. Accessed 25th April 2013. Retrieved from,d.ZWU


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