Back To CourseBusiness 104: Information Systems and Computer Applications
12 chapters | 111 lessons | 11 flashcard sets
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Jill has taught college-level business and IT. She has a Doctorate in Business Administration and an M.S. in Information Technology & Leadership.
Have you ever Googled your name? What did you find out about yourself? Like many people, you may have been a bit surprised about the information that could be obtained about you through a simple Internet search. Information technology has opened up society and decreased privacy. Privacy continues to diminish as technological innovation progresses.
Privacy is the right to be left alone and free from surveillance and unreasonable personal intrusions. Information privacy is the right to determine when and to what extent information about oneself can be communicated to others. This applies to individuals, groups, and institutions. Privacy can be interpreted quite broadly, which contributes to the debate concerning privacy expectations and availability of personal information. However, the following two rules have been followed fairly closely in past court decisions in many countries: the right of privacy is not absolute and must be balanced against the needs of society, and the public's right to know is superior to the individual's right of privacy. These two rules reveal why it is difficult in some cases to determine and enforce privacy regulations.
There are a number of privacy issues that are of concern, including electronic surveillance, availability of personal information, cookies and spyware, and workplace monitoring.
Detective Brown and Detective Smith are staking out a building located in a bad part of town. Their beat up van sits inconspicuously along the street, giving nothing away about whom they are or why they are there. The detectives are gathering information through electronic surveillance to take down an organized crime ring that has wreaked havoc on the city and contributed to the rise in crime.
Electronic surveillance involves monitoring people with technology, often without their knowledge. Video recordings, photography, and audio recordings are common electronic surveillance techniques.
Detectives Brown and Smith photograph everyone going in and out of the suspect building. They will use the photographs to identify the key players in the crime ring. They have also planted cameras and audio devices within the building to capture conversations and keep a real-time watch on the movements within the building. All of this information is recorded from the van and saved to build a strong case.
You don't have to be a criminal to come in contact with electronic surveillance. We are all likely to encounter various forms of electronic surveillance throughout the day. Some communities use video surveillance to catch those who violate traffic laws. You may receive a ticket in the mail for running a red light or failing to pay a toll. When you go to the bank, withdraw money from the ATM, or enter your local convenience store, you are probably being recorded on video. Your apartment building or workplace may be equipped with video surveillance to discourage crime and assist in resolving crimes if they do occur.
The house next door to you has just been sold. Your new neighbor moves in. He is a middle aged man who keeps to himself and does not appear to be very friendly. He keeps odd hours and comes across as very strange. Your attempts to welcome him to the neighborhood have failed since he never answers the door. You wonder about him and find your mind getting carried away with all the possibilities. You wish you had more information to go on.
You probably wouldn't go to the trouble of scouring city hall documents, rooting through his trash, or tracking down friends and relatives to interview. However, if you could spend a few minutes searching the World Wide Web for information, there is a much greater chance you would snoop around. Wouldn't you? With information technology, it is relatively simple to find personal information on anyone you wish, including your new neighbor.
A variety of information on individuals is kept in databases. These databases house information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, medical histories, family histories, and more. Practically every organization has a database full of information on everyone they do business with. The concern with this is whether or not they should be collecting this information, what they will do with it, how secure it is, how accurate it is, and who it can be sold to. Personal data is increasingly made available in online databases, which can be accessed by search engines.
You decide to jump on the Internet and conduct a Web search to learn more about your neighbor. You discover his age, his birth date, his previous addresses, employment, and much more. You learn that he moved from another state after his wife passed away due to an automobile accident. He took a new job in the area as a commercial pilot, which is why he never seems to be home and keeps odd hours. You also discovered how much he paid for his house and that he ran a 5K race in 27 minutes and 33 seconds last year. Now, you feel better about your new neighbor and decide maybe he isn't so weird after all.
The question that concerns some is should personal information, like we discussed, be so readily available to the public? The availability of personal information shows no signs of slowing. In fact, courts and government agencies at all levels are increasingly making public records available online. Some find it troubling given the sensitive information contained in the available documents. For instance, someone filing for bankruptcy must disclose their social security number, their bank and credit card numbers, account balances, and even children's names and ages.
One of the fastest growing crimes has been identity theft. Identity theft is the stealing of another person's social security number, credit card number, or other personal information for the purpose of borrowing money, making purchases, and running up debts. In some cases, thieves even withdraw cash directly from the victim's bank account. Since many private organizations and governments keep information about individuals in accessible databases, there is an endless opportunity for thieves to retrieve it and misuse the information.
Amy jumps on the Internet from her home computer and goes to Amazon.com. She is automatically recognized by the website. In fact, it says, 'Hello Amy' in the upper right-hand corner of the Web page. On the top left side of the screen, she can click on Amy's Amazon.com, and it takes her to her own personalized page of recommended products based on past purchases and searches. How does Amazon.com know so much about Amy?
An even more intrusive technology is spyware. Spyware is a small computer program, stored on the user's hard drive, that collects user's habits and transmits that information to a third party, all without the user's consent. Spyware can monitor any website visited by the user, whereas cookies are specific to a particular website. Spyware can be installed when a user downloads software, especially freeware or shareware. A very common way to fall victim to spyware is by downloading peer-to-peer file swapping products. Spyware also steals from the user by using up computer memory and consuming bandwidth. Since spyware uses memory and system resources, it can cause crashes and instability with your computer system.
The reason that companies wish to gather so much consumer information is for targeted marketing and advertising. It is much more effective to send a user an advertisement specific to their likes rather than just a general advertisement. Companies value detailed information because they believe it enhances their capability to predict consumer preferences and behavior.
Becky's boss, Dave, summoned her to his office. He wanted to discuss her attitude and use of technology in the office. You see, the day before, Dave was in a bad mood due to a fast approaching deadline. He was a bit harsh with Becky when she didn't have the paperwork he needed completed on time. He verbally reprimanded her and asked that she complete it immediately. Later in the day, once things had slowed down, Becky composed an email to her co-worker Debbie. Her email was mainly to vent about Dave. After she finished writing the email and reviewed it, she thought it was best just to delete it and not actually send it to Debbie. Today, that email came back to haunt Becky. The IT department was able to retrieve the email through a special computer program they have installed on the network. It records keystrokes. Becky's boss had her deleted email in his hand.
Technology has facilitated greater control over employees. Workplace monitoring is a growing trend. Many employers believe that monitoring is necessary to prevent loss of trade secrets, abuses of their computer networks, and inefficiency and loss of productivity through wasted time. On the other hand, many employees believe it's an invasion of privacy and a lack of trust. The lack of trust can decrease employee morale. Employees' email, voice mail, and Web surfing habits may be monitored. There is a category of tools called Employee Internet Management (EIM) software, and that filters and monitors employees' Internet usage. Many Fortune 500 companies have adopted some form of EIM software.
What some find disturbing is the expanding scope of workplace monitoring. Various software programs can be installed that will record every keystroke made by an employee. If an employee, like Becky, types up an angry email but decides to delete it before sending, every keystroke is still recorded. Some products, at the disposal of employers, will monitor all network activities and single out transactions or requests that appear out of order.
Some employee monitoring programs that may be used by businesses are WorkTime by Nestersoft, Inc., ActivTrak, Refog Employee Monitoring, and WebWatcher, among many others.
When we discuss privacy on the Internet, we are referring to information privacy. Information privacy is the right to determine when and to what extent information about oneself can be communicated to others. Information technology has created a more open society where privacy grows scarcer with the development of each new technological innovation. The Internet has made it possible to easily collect, exchange, and recombine personal information with ease.
Spyware and cookies have enabled organizations to keep tabs on consumers and monitor their activities and habits on the Internet for business purposes. Recall that cookies are small data files that are written and stored on the user's hard drive by a website when that user visits the site with a browser. Spyware is a small computer program, stored on the user's hard drive, that collects user's habits and transmits the information to a third party, all without the user's consent.
With more sophisticated surveillance equipment, people can be monitored with or without their knowledge by law enforcement or even their employer. Electronic surveillance involves monitoring people with technology, often without their knowledge. Employees' email, voice mail, and Web surfing habits may be monitored. There is a category of tools called Employee Internet Management (EIM) software that filters and monitors employees' Internet usage.
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Back To CourseBusiness 104: Information Systems and Computer Applications
12 chapters | 111 lessons | 11 flashcard sets