affirmative cases are outlined with suggestions for further research
for the privacy topic. Follow the links below to the general
introduction to the case areas and to the specific cases.
Introduction and Overview
The media regularly reports
how Americans fear for their privacy. In a recent survey, 80 percent
reported that they worry about what happens to information collected
about them. We hear that much of this concern stems from the a growing
reliance on computers and the Internet for shopping, banking,
entertainment, and a host of other transactions once made on a
face-to-face basis. We are warned that powerful Web technologies make
it easier than ever for businesses to collect information about our
comings and goings in cyberspace, making us increasingly vulnerable to
intrusions on our privacy by aggressive marketers or even criminals.
Polls reveal less about
public attitudes than observations of their actual behavior. There is
little evidence that fears about privacy have slowed people's actual
use of the Internet. The Justice Department has used the growth of
cybercrime to justify high-tech investigation techniques by law
enforcement and to fuel their campaign to regulate Internet-related
technologies such as strong encryption.
The strongest fears about
privacy loss may not be related to the growth of e-commerce and
cybercrime, as debaters of the privacy topic will do well to recognize
early on. Instead, it is intrusions by government itself that play a
major, if less publicized, role in diminishing individual privacy.
Government's census-taking efforts this year and polls indicating that
most people don't trust that their census data will be kept
(despite laws to the contrary) signal a distrust of government's
ability to respect privacy.
and our privacy
For many reasons people have
much more reason to be concerned about invasions of their privacy by
the state than by private businesses and organizations.
These changes in public
attitudes toward government control are easier to recognize when
placed in historical perspective. Consider the enormous popular
resistance President Roosevelt met to the establishment of a small
Social Security program for retired and disabled people in 1932. Why
the opposition to a program that has since become one of the revered
institutions of our society?