Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Privacy in 2012... Does it exist and should it?

Privacy in 2012... Does it exist and should it?
Chelsea Markel

With the rapid expansion of technology, privacy is often compromised, consciously and unconsciously by the individual. The amount of privacy that an one in 2012 has used to be  considered a 'personal choice', but is that still the case? In this blog post I will be analyzing the pros and cons of efforts by federal officials to order cell phone companies to furnish real-time tracking of data so that officials can pinpoint fugitives and suspects. Needless to say, many opinions exist on whether or not installing real-time tracking on cellular devices is a good or a bad thing for society as a whole. Proponents for installing a tracking system in cell phones argue that this technology can be useful in emergency situations and also can be a powerful tool in identifying criminals. Whereas opponents suggest that tracking services go against the rights of American citizens and believe that trackers are a complete invasion of personal privacy. In my opinion, I believe that both sides of this topic have a valid point but if an individual is not breaking the law then this technology will not be of harm to that person. The question that I pose is; if you are obeying the law then what is the harm of having this tracking service installed on your phone?

Supporters of installing and utilizing tracking technology on cell phones believe that this will be a helpful tool in keeping people more safe and secure, by allowing people in emergency situations, such as a natural disaster or a hostage situation, to be located by the police. This tracking technology is an extremely useful tool in the rescue and search of missing people after natural disasters or any time of emergency situation. Tracking technology has been the method of many people being located during these harmful situations by firefighters and police officers. Additionally, supporters affirm that law enforcement tracking does not violate the Fourth Amendment; which protects Americans against illegal searches, due to the fact that “tracking doesn’t require a physical interaction with the suspect’s handset” (Jones, 1).  Therefore, proponents conclude that cell data is incredibly valuable to law enforcement during the course of an investigation and search for people during an emergency situation.

Opponents of this tracking technology being used in cellular devices argue that their rights are being violated and that their privacy is basically eliminated. An article written by Catherine Crump, from the ACLU, stated, “the government should have to get a warrant before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution” (Crump, 1). Many people believe that they should not have to sacrifice their amount of privacy, even though this technology can be helpful in targeting criminals. 

So where do you stand on this topic? In the near future, the senate will be reviewing “the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, which would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant to access location information from cell phones or GPS devices. It would also mandate that private telecommunications companies obtain their customers’ consent before collecting location data” (Crump, 1). The question still remains, is cell phone tracking a good or a bad thing for society?

If you are interested in learning more about this topic and seeing what other people have to say, click these links and learn more! You comments are welcomed :) 

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