OPINION: Technology laws are outdated and leave our privacy in jeopardy

Many people are aware that the connection between privacy and technology are intimately linked. The basic human right of privacy is not the first thing that pops into most people’s mind when they access their e-mail from their phone, or when they walk down a crowded street that has security cameras bristling from every telephone pole.

The fact of the matter is, whether it crosses our mind or not, almost every time a person accesses or encounters technology there is a chance data is being collected about their actions without their consent. New limitations and laws need to be put into place, ones that cannot be easily dodged by the rapidly changing world of tech.

Almost every American citizen is being closely watched, and privacy laws put into place over the years are no longer up to the task of protecting the people from prying technological eyes.

Experts in the legal field are aware of this issue, and understand the repercussions of decreased privacy. Privacy laws are written for the same reason all laws are written, because they are needed for our society to function properly. Unfortunately, the writing and revision of laws can take some time to accomplish.

Depending on legislature and the bureaucrats doing the voting, revising or passing a law could take anywhere from six or seven months to three or four years. Technology changes quicker and the people who exploit it tend to adapt their techniques to misuse it more rapidly. The writing of new privacy laws to fit any given scenario that involves technology is therefore likely to be obsolete by the time it is passed.

For example, a log on to Netflix to stream shows may seem like a normal enough activity. Behind the scenes, however, Netflix is taking note of everything you watch, and are allowed to sell that information to anyone. The Video Privacy Protection Act of 1980 forbade “video tape service providers” from sharing information about their client’s movie selections. However, as streaming media does not involve the distribution of “video tapes,” a legal loophole is presented that those streaming media services are able to exploit.

The Video Privacy Protection Act is just one component of this broken system of privacy laws. We are essentially still using statues that were written in the time of the 8-track player, and that proves to be just as obsolete.

To define who can access our personal information in this age, there is a definite need for tech-savvy lawyers and congressmen who understand the capabilities of new data gathering techniques, and how to effectively stop them from intruding on personal privacy.

Keeping up with hackers, government agencies, information brokers and the like that wish to take advantage of us under the guise of a computerized system is effectively a cat and mouse game which we cannot win, if we use the same techniques that have proven to fail to protect us.

Photos, dates of birth, information about oneself both mundane and extremely confidential now litters the internet, floating like leaves in a river, unable to be controlled or retrieved except by those who have the right type of net. The scary part is, most people do not seem to mind sacrificing their personal data and privacy for the convenience of technology; until they have become a victim.

Read more: http://www.theeastcarolinian.com/opinion/article_8e71637a-60cb-11e5-9850-97fc38a7cf8f.html

Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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