Tag Archives: encryption

Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions May Apply

Passwords, code combinations, and security questions – there are multiple ways in which we try to protect our information online and on our devices today. Yet the reality is that there aren’t any constitutional laws that protect our online privacy.

In this digital age we perform numerous actions on the Internet everyday that require us to share our personal information. It has become such a habit for us to do so that many of us no longer think twice of who this data can be accessed by, and for how long it will be accessible.

“In reality what we’re doing is that we’re all surrendering information, we’re not sharing it,” said CSUN Marketing Professor Kristen Walker. “All we have is faith in our interactions and exchange of information, in particular on our mobile devices.”

The question of who has the right to the information we surrender gained attention this spring as tech company Apple and the FBI got involved in an encryption case. In the aftermath of the fatal terrorist attack in San Bernardino in December 2015, the FBI wanted the iPhone belonging to one of the suspects unlocked. Apple refused to help the FBI in their encryption request, saying it would endanger both personal privacy and national security.

“This is really just two villains facing off each other,” said CSUN Communication Studies Professor Gina Giotta. “Nobody wins, because our rights are being trampled in both cases: on the one hand in the corporate sector, on the other hand in the government sector.”

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures by our government, and is seen by many legal scholars as also central to all forms of surveillance and privacy. In today’s era of technology, the Fourth Amendment has also been interpreted by some as a broad protection of our privacy on digital platforms as well.

“Our technology is advancing in an unprecedented pace, and our legal system is not keeping up,” said Guardian reporter Nellie Bowles. “You have these two really separate cultures, moving in two different paces, and we’re starting to see a lot of situations where that is becoming a major problem.”

This tech privacy zeitgeist may be more noticeable for some than for others. Older generations were used to having only their name and contact information in the white pages accessible to others. The amount of personal information that we’re forced to surrender today can be difficult for these generations to accept.

“Technology might be going too fast, according to our mentality,” said Pierce College Computer Science Professor Luis Celada. “If you ask a person born in the last 15 years, there’s no such thing as being careful with their privacy, because they have always been exposed to it. Prior generations see that difference.”

Giotta said the so-called Millennials should be careful with how and what they share about themselves online. This care should also go for popular social networks, where information usually is shared only with users known and trusted.

“To suggest that the mutual or peers surveillance that we do on social networks isn’t a big deal is kind of dangerous,” Giotta said. “When we feel the constant gaze of our friends, co-workers, and parents upon us, we’re much less likely to be concerned when one of those gazes becomes that of the government.”


Moderator: Sofia Levin

Anchor: Mariah Robinson

Producer: Harry Bennett III

Social Media Editors: Harry Bennett III and Mariah Robinson

Reporters: Ajo Adelaja, Harry Bennett III, Jarvis Haren, Valerie Hernandez, Haley Kramer, Sofia Levin and Mariah Robinson


Comments Off on Online Privacy: Terms and Conditions May Apply