- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
- Enjoy Christmas at the Alys Dec. 2, “The Season’s First Jingle”
- Engineering’s Ning wins ASTM International award
- Collat School of Business unveils sign at celebration
- Heudebert elected master by American College of Physicians
- Anti-aging strategies can improve more than looks
Viewpoint: Our right to privacy
Remember Edward Snowden, the hero labeled traitor living in exile? Remember SOPA, the bill that could have undermined the security and privacy of the entire Internet? Remember CISPA, which would have legalized companies sharing personal data with the government? While the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling took center-stage, these other matters, concerning our privacy, have been pushed into the shadows.
Nonetheless, privacy is an issue near and dear to everyone, and while our attention is turned the other way, Congress is trying to pass a resurrected version of CISPA again. It is simply outrageous that, so soon after the NSA surveillance scandal, our government would continue its intrusion into our privacy.
Much as proponents would like to claim that the Internet is a public place, I would beg to differ. I don’t claim that it is completely private, for that would be impossible, but I do believe that we have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Take Facebook, for example. While the data on there is not as private as, say, documents locked up in my basement, it is reasonably also not as public as a billboard. The simple fact that the data does not reside with a person physically does not imply that the data is not private.
A major provision of CISPA was that major Internet companies would be able to give the government the contents of emails, with personal information intact. Though this ability is largely irrelevant in light of the now-unveiled NSA surveillance program, it is nevertheless a point worth arguing. Emails are in no essence different than snail mail except for the medium. Interception of emails is unequivocally equivalent to interception of paper mail.
If passed into law, CISPA (or rather, its resurrected zombie bill) would grant the government deeper access into private data than ever before. Though the language of the new bill has not been finalized, it is very vague. Anything that falls under the nebulous umbrella of “national security” would be fair game for the government to acquire.
While it is true that in this ever-evolving world a county needs to defend itself against digital threats, it cannot blatantly disregard the rights to privacy of is citizens. Digital surveillance to prevent digital crime is no different than the police physically reading mail and tapping phone calls to prevent physical crime. The government should be able to do so with probable cause; however, massive, indiscriminate data dumps are definitely not probable cause.
Just as hackers and exploiters threaten our privacy and security, so do misinformed legislators. As the right to privacy begins to erode, we are headed down the slippery slope of an authoritarian surveillance state, which I find to be an undesirable outcome.