Jul
29
2011

Internet Privacy Laws

Internet privacy laws discussions are increasing in the media. Consumers are growing more concerned about their right to privacy. Some users prefer to shield their activities while participating in any activity on the Internet. From chatrooms to shopping online, consumers would like for their purchases to remain theirs exclusively. However, as cases involving harassment and cyberbullying become more prevalent, legislators must balance the line between privacy and protecting people online.

As more people become more anonymous on the Internet, they are more shielded to participate in scams, illicit behavior and also to cyberbully. Internet legislators want a balance between anonymity and accessibility for law enforcement purposes. Even court records are available through the Internet.

Constitutional Law for Internet Privacy

Since no formal law exists in cyberspace, Internet users can find recourse through applicable laws in the government. There are some Amendments that address privacy, but none in the Constitution and none specifically on the Internet. Privacy according to lawmakers is known as a “penumbra right,” because it is not expressly written in the Constitution. The law is protected under the Bill of Rights, but not specifically.

Fourth Amendment, for instance, protects citizens from unwarranted search and seizure. Rules protecting privacy stored on an Internet access provider’s server are less protected than the files stored on the computer or separate hard drive at home. However, more federal laws are protecting web servers. Since all that is required is a search and seizure by the police to access files from a web server, many people feel that their files and privacy are not as secure as they would like. With the amount of information being saved about a user’s email and web browsing habits, more consumers are encouraging new legislation.

Spamming and Defamation

Spammers may often invade privacy by including links in the email that will install spyware on the person’s computer. Internet spamming cases have been successful in court. This is also another privacy issue. Defamation, libel and slander on the Internet is also an issue. These crimes are punishable in both civil and criminal suits.

Internet Anonymity

Internet anonymity guarantees that no third parties would have the ability to gain access to personally-identifiable information (P.I.I) without the expressed consent of the Internet user. All of this information is tracked when products are ordered online and when forms are filled out online. Consumers are fighting back against collecting cookies. Some software even blocks this type of collection of data.

In some instances, collecting data is legal through cookies. Cookies often help with convenience of filling out multiple forms of data. However, some clients find that companies offering this convenience are invasive and should not engage in these practices.

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