by BrianC

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        Every year we share and store more and more data electronically. We share our lives on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus, you wonder what is the current state of digital privacy? Can we even keep our digital life private anymore? The state of digital privacy has evolved since the dawn of the Internet. We start to store more information digitally on all our devices. There is a war for digital privacy, are we beginning to see that we are losing?
         Google a couple of years ago announced that it is integrating user information on multiple search engines such as Gmail, YouTube, and many others in an effort to personalize searching. So keep in mind that literally everything that you post to the Internet will be hard to remove because it is not temporary or private.
         Some people believe that once you encrypt a file that is protected from anyone forcing you to reveal its contents. This may be true to a certain extent. Generally, courts cannot force defendants to decrypt their computer files because it is a violation of the 5th Amendment, however if the police have a reason to believe that the incriminating evidence is there then the 5th Amendment no longer applies. According to DailyTechwhip.com, there was a case in Massachusetts where the Supreme Court ordered the defendant to decrypt the file. The defendant did boldly challenge, “no one is going to get to it,” and mention there was a decryption key. DailyTechwhip.com states, it is true that the ruling does seem a bit hazy since it may infringe on digital privacy rights. It is questionable due to the fact that the government knows there are encrypted documents but they do not know what they contain. 
         There is, however a recent victory for digital privacy. In Riley v. California there is a new digital privacy protection against the government’s argument to search a cell phone without a warrant. In the American Civil Liberties Union article, Steven R. Shapiro, the legal director stated that, “The quantity and quality of information that most of us now carry on our digital devices necessarily changes the way we think about privacy. The Court understood that its decision in Riley reflects the importance of preserving our fundamental values in a world of rapid technological change.”
         Under George W. Bush, we may have started to see the attrition of the digital privacy after the Patriot Act was passed, however this has changed. The Obama Administration wants Congress to reform the NSA by ending the government’s collection of people’s phone records. Recently, the House passed new limits of NSA surveillance, which is a victory for digital privacy. This is not just to stop the NSA and CIA’s collection of phone records; this includes stopping collection of personal online information and access into all the digital devices. The message is clear: Americans want their digital privacy back and don’t want to be spied on anymore.

Sources: Document Cloud, Ars Technica, American Civil Liberties Union

Image credit: ‪webpractices.wordpress.com, ‪www.cloudwards.net

 


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