Describing the Patriot Act that passed in 2001 and referencing recent online developments, this article addresses the controversial subject of internet privacy for individuals and businesses.
With the growth of online marketing, blogging and internet shopping the web has been awash with uncertainty and ambiguity when it comes to privacy laws. However, with regard to online businesses or even private web pages there is much to be said for understanding which laws apply and how these laws are relevant to guarding each individual’s privacy. Key to this aspect of the online world is knowing and understanding the Patriot Act and how this law, designed to protect American citizens, has caused problems for those who are interested in safeguarding their virtual privacy.
The Patriot Act
Intended as a way to provide the US authorities with the tools necessary to counter threats to national security, this bill was signed into law in 2001 by President George Bush in response to terrorist threats.
The bill gave powers to the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate international transactions, immigration and law enforcement. It was a bill designed to protect the freedom and safety of every American citizen. However, this statute, now known as the Patriot Act, has become a controversial piece of legislation that has seemed to limit rather than increase a person’s right to privacy when using the World Wide Web.
One of the main issues drawing complaints has been the way in which the bill allows government bodies to use surveillance procedures to monitor public activity. This includes the interception of ‘wire, oral and electronic’ types of communication that are believed to be part of organised terrorism.
Before this act was passed, it was generally assumed that every single email sent by an individual was a private affair. Now this can no longer be assumed to be the case. Today, the US government has the power to monitor and intercept any email from any citizen, or for that matter any international visitor staying in America.
As this is limited to emails that appear to be involved in terrorist acts, this may at first seem the only true and right course of action. However, civil-rights protestors point out that the definition used by the government of what constitutes terrorist activity can be both subjective and ambiguous.
What This Means to Internet Users
In recent years, social-networking sites and companies dealing in online data have grown and developed, leading many to believe that online privacy has become a thing of the past. Companies today can ‘Google’ their staff, potential employees and competitors, locating crucial data from a range of different sources. Those people who decide to get more info on Xfinity internet plans can even start to make the most of a faster connection to stream content and locate crucial data within just a few seconds.
Anyone who sends or receives emails and large data files or who streams video content will know that connection speeds have increased and download capabilities have improved. Now it’s not just government agencies benefiting from technological developments, it’s the everyday internet user working from home.
In today’s society data is collected openly from social-networking sites, but it is also stored on computers for security reasons. For instance, more and more passwords and personal details are required for accessing bank, business and shopping sites. By not providing such data individuals may be in breach of the terms of service, with many sites made unavailable and inaccessible without this information.
While government agencies may be obliged to monitor and access private data in the light of recent terrorist activities, individual users may feel a little less protected. It is often the case that emails now contain a disclaimer bringing attention to the fact that online correspondence is no longer private and confidential. Advice to the individual user from civil-rights campaigners is to bear in mind that emails now stand a chance of being accessed by outside organisations and to use them very carefully as a means of communicating personal messages.
Sarah James writes regularly for digital technology websites and blogs. Her work addresses a range of themes from legal issues and online marketing to how to get more info on Xfinity internet plans. With articles and reviews that span a number of years, Sarah has become a well-respected and knowledgeable source for the online business sector.