Intelius.com is a site that American citizens have used in finding details of other people. The site displays an individual’s data such as addresses, location, email addresses, phone numbers, and full names. In addition, Intelius.com has been targeting people who are interested in dating and reconnecting with family members, military officers, classmates and friends. This company makes money when they sell these private data of the U.S. citizens to the customers. Therefore, they keep wealth of information about an individual in order to remain vibrant in the dating field. Evidently, a person can access the U.S. citizens’ private data through Intelius.com. The second technological application that permits access to a person’s private data is Google.com. One can just use Google to search for details of any person in the website, for example, phone numbers, emails, physical address, and even maps leading to a person’s residential place. This offers Google maps. These pieces of information are always required in opening of accounts in the internet like Gmail and Yahoo accounts. As a result, Google.com allows people to share these details with their employers, organizations and other individuals.
The third platform is the Zaba Search; it displays peoples’ addresses and phone numbers. This search engine displays these data at no cost. Moreover, one can access other citizens’ data without registering in this site. It also advertises residential lists, which can be found in phone directories. In addition, it offers background checks and security numbers. Clearly, these sites and search engines display U.S. citizens’ private information. Other sites are the social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where people give their date of birth, sexual preferences, interests, current location, and life history.
When the public is able to access such information, it enhances communication and eases family and friends reunion. Information technology has reduced the distance between people thus turning the world into global village. On the other hand, it enhances networking among researchers in the entire globe. Another instance is the social media platform such as Facebook. People are able to form professional or dating groups. In these groups, they can express their views on issues of national or global importance like climate change and food security. Through these groups, people are able to reach effective results. A real life example is how during his first elections, with the help of Facebook, President Barack Obama was able to influence the Americans to vote for him. All citizens could view his profile and contribute on the same platform. Conversely, IT has raised the issue of privacy. It has encouraged unauthorized access to an individual’s private data. For instance, providing social security numbers can lead to fraud activities. Some sites ask for a person’s pet name or the name of their first teacher. Remarkably, most banks also ask some of these questions in ensuring privacy on peoples’ accounts. Therefore, sites that ask for these questions can also help fraudulent services. Since many people with different intentions access the internet, such private data can even be used to assassinate an individual. There should be attempts to train numerous people on the type of information that they should give to the public and even be cautious with some unknown links that they receive in their email boxes, as these can be the channels of accessing their privacy.
Citizens can opt to use numerous steps to ensure that their private data are out of reach from unauthorized quarters. For instance, one should consider if he/she can achieve his/her objectives without disclosing personal information. Such data are always given to the employers. Moreover, people should ensure that they keep their information secured; for instance, clearing histories and cache in cyber cafes, using different passwords in opening different email accounts and other sites (Protecting Your Personal Information on the Internet, 2009). Notably, the password setup should contain small and capital letters together with digits. This makes it difficult for hackers to access all-important private information in other sites. One can also decide to share personal information with a relevant agency dealing in the same line. Outstandingly, the person does not have to give other personal details like social security numbers during communication. Therefore, this method also protects violation of personal privacy thus maintaining the standards that the organizations have set to follow. Additionally, pieces of information in the internet are easily vulnerable; therefore, citizens in dealing with websites that require banking or credit card details must confirm the security status. Secure websites have URL beginning with https://. In the absence of this URL, no further information should be revealed. Citizens can also ensure that they encrypt data that they store in portable devices like laptops, flash disks, and iPods (Protecting Your Personal Information on the Internet, 2009). Encrypted data imply that the files in them are password-protected and only the owner has the authority to access or it may be someone who knows the password.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that came into force in 1966 under the federal law allows any person to access another person’s private information. The requester sends a message to the appropriate agency, like the office of the attorney, generally through email or other electronics devices. He/she must clearly state the current residence and other contact information. Notably, the information that can be disclosed under FOIA must not be pertained to national security and even deals with sensitive law enforcement practices (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009). After scrutiny, the information is supplied to the requester mostly in electronic form. Clearly, these details are made public for other’s access. This federal law helps in tracking of terrorists and their sympathizers. This method makes the public aware of the private information of the wanted persons thus assisting in the searching process. The Department of Defense authorized ChoicePoint to access data of all individuals with the purpose of locating criminals and suspects.
In the electronics dimension, there is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). It aims at protecting a person’s private emails. For instance, under this law, the employer should not access an employee’s email, but only through consent the accessibility may become legal under ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), n.d.). An exception arises when the government requires a person’s data. In this situation, the third party is allowed to tap the citizen’s information. In addition, this act prohibits the use of devices that capture a person’s data. These devices can store information; for example, phone communication and emails sender, addressee and the information content. Therefore, this law monitors tapping of data during the actual communication process. Remarkably, those who violate this act face a fine of $250,000 and a jail term of five years (Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), n.d.). This law has helped in ensuring data privacy in the U.S and worldwide.
Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). (n.d.). EPIC – Electronic Privacy Information Center. Web.
Protecting Your Personal Information on the Internet. (2009). Embassy of the United States. Web.
U.S. Department of Justice. (2009). FCIC – Your Right to Federal Records. Publications.USA.gov Main Page. Web.