Information Technology (IT)
“Any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment, that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission, or reception of data or information. The term information technology includes computers, ancillary equipment, software, firmware and similar procedures, services (including support services), and related resources. ” In essence Information Technology (IT) is your PC, telephone, fax machine, printer and much, much more.
From the software applications you use to write emails and letters through to the massive systems that make up the World Wide Web, Information Technology is in use everywhere. Although no one can guarantee a country’s total security, technology could potentially come close. As advanced technology creates problems for the protection of privacy, it can also provide a large part of the solutions. Networks, hardware and software can and should be designed, or redesigned, to put the user in control of his own personal information and his private sphere.
But given the considerable commercial and state interests in the collection of personal data, this will only happen with a clear, enforceable legal framework guaranteeing the individual’s right to privacy and regulating the measures to achieve it. Ethical issues & Legal boundaries Most countries have laws protecting individual privacy. The EU has the Data Protection Act of 1995. Organisation that collects personal data must register with the government, and take precautions against misuse of that data. They are also prohibited from the collection, use and dissemination of personal information without the consent of the person.
Organisations also have the duty to tell individuals about the reason for the information collection, to provide access and correct inaccurate information, and to keep that information secure from access by unathorised parties. Within Europe, the individual’s right to privacy is firmly embedded in the European Convention on Human Rights ; Fundamental Freedoms Cultural relativism is a view that says what is “good” is the equal to what is “socially approved” by the majority of a culture. Given this, what is considered ethically good really depends on the context of a given culture.
What is “good” for one culture does not mean that the same is true for another. In the case of databases versus personal privacy, such a view can be of merit. The way that data is viewed by the culture in Europe is much different than that of the U. S. Europeans take privacy very seriously. This attention to privacy is likely the result of the Nazis using commercial and government files to track down Jews, communists, resistance fighters, and the mentally ill in World War II. Whereas the U. S. inherently hasn’t paid much attention to database privacy until standards were put forth by the EU.
Even so, companies are reluctant to adopt EU standards. A group of 10 American companies, who call themselves as the Global Privacy Alliance (GPA), protested that strict EU privacy laws hindered the flow of information between companies. The list of companies includes IBM, Oracle, and VeriSign. They claim that the EU directive makes it difficult for companies to engage in the kind of dataflow that they claim is vital to modern e-enabled businesses. There is an obvious gap between the two cultures, one that is market driven, versus one that emphasises personal privacy.
Nonetheless, exporting databases to the U. S. is not something that European companies feel comfortable about. With respect to national security, governmental databases would also need to exchange data among databases similar to companies in the GPA. Large amounts of information from autonomous systems would be amassed into a huge collective system. The end result would be reduced privacy. From a cultural relativist point of view, these two cultures have different priorities when it comes to databases and privacy. The U. S.
is less concerned with personal privacy, which is reflected by a government that is moving toward an integrated database system. On the contrary, European countries hold privacy in high regard, and many are going with a less intrusive implementation of national ID cards. Recommendation: The issue of databases and privacy involves a delicate balance between security versus personal privacy. This is an issue that affects everyone around the world and requires awareness. Privacy is something that we all have a right to, but it is also something that is increasing difficult to maintain.
Our society is constantly becoming more electronic in nature. All of our information concerning births, marriages, divorces, property ownership, voter registration, workers compensation, etc. are already stored in databases. Transactions placed through ATMs and credit cards are all recorded. Then there’s the Internet, which provides endless possibilities for information gathering. Collectively, data from across databases can be gathered and analysed through data mining to extract useful information.
Ultimately, although personal privacy is sacrificed, a system that combines databases will have a multitude of uses in fighting terrorism and other related issues. The reason for this falls upon the common good and utilitarian perspectives. Although privacy of individuals is decreased, the potential for preventing future disasters is invaluable. In the case of September 11th, the FBI, CIA, and other related intelligence agencies were helpless in preventing the disaster because they simply either had too much or too little information to go by.