A Problem Of Internet Privacy Essay Example


Online privacy has emerged as a very important ethical issue within the last decade. In today’s world, about 20 million people access the internet per day and the number has increased by 500 percent since 2000. (Zappedia) Online privacy is also essential because we recently depend on the internet to live our daily lives amidst a pandemic. With this, we have to make a lot of ethical decisions with its corresponding tradeoffs to decide how we should handle online privacy. First, we need to consider scenarios where violating privacy is justified, such as when law enforcement needs evidence to solve a crime, for the military and preventing attacks, or uncovering terrorists and their plans. We might have to trade off some of our online privacy for medical records (such as tracking cases in an outbreak or pandemic), economic efficiency (using the data to improve the economy), environmental protection (using data to establish environmental protocols), and again for national security and law enforcement (to protect the country). 

Identifying the Options:

Regarding the issue of online privacy, some relevant facts are that technology-driven and information-intensive companies create more risk for data breaches to happen, people are very desensitized to online privacy and unaware of the extent of data tracking on the internet, and according to Pew Research, found that being able to control who is able to access and view their data is very important to 74% of Americans and describes the phenomenon known as the “privacy paradox”. (Zomorodi) Other facts can also direct us to see why companies are easily able to track and sell data to the government and other companies. Terms of Service agreements are just too long and vague for people to read in seating while establishing an account. Researchers estimate that it would take 76 hours per year to read every Term of Service agreement we see. Some facts that are not known is the extent of the type of information that is shared between companies and the government. We don’t accurately know how long companies and the government store this collected or bought data within their own databases. Lastly, in today’s world data breaches occur very frequently, and companies don’t disclose specific information that has been compromised in their database, which limits the options for users to take action afterward. In my opinion, I believe I have enough sources and facts to make a decision.

The individuals and groups that hold or have an important stake in the decision would be advertisement companies, internet users/families, companies, government agencies, and internet service providers. Some concerns would be more important, especially from internet users, families, and government agencies. I believe internet users should have priority while making a decision regarding online privacy because they are the “consumers” of the internet because they invest money into having internet access while also purchasing items online and investing payments for other online services that they use daily. Government agencies’ concerns would also be more important because they utilize the internet to protect the wellbeing of the country and its citizens. Both parties need to be considered while choosing our final outcome. 

Lastly, we need to consider the options, solutions, and actions that we could take to create the best solution to solve this ethical issue. Some options and actions that I will describe further in each approach are: Establishing online privacy laws and enforcing strict data management regulations within companies and the government while creating transparency between all stakeholders, raising awareness, and teaching current and future generations about data collection and online privacy, changing individual online behavior and browsing habits, implementing advanced encryption across all devices and require all sites to require two-factor authentication and create laws to require companies to simplify Terms of Service contracts, lastly creating a user privacy based internet browser that would encrypt search history and internet activity to improve online privacy and reduce the amount of private or excessive data collection by companies and the government. 

Evaluate Alternative Actions:

The option that would best fit the Utilitarian Approach (producing the most good and doing the least harm) would be implementing advanced encryption across all devices and require all sites to require two-factor authentication and create laws to require companies to simplify Terms of Service contracts. This option would best match the requirements of the Utilitarianism Approach because this is the best balance between producing the most good and minimizing the harmful effects. Requiring all sites to require two-factor authentications for user accounts will greatly minimize the number of data breaches and improves online privacy, even though it may be tedious for the user. Also, creating laws to simplify and shorten Terms of Service contracts will increase transparency on data collection between internet users and companies while better educating internet users on how data is collected, stored, and handled and who to contact to direct concerns for anything relating to data collection and online privacy on the site, despite being a lot of work for companies to restructure and reinvent data collection procedures and policies.

The option that would best fit the Rights Approach (Best respects the rights of all who have a stake) would be establishing online privacy laws and enforcing strict data management regulations within companies and the government while creating transparency between all stakeholders. This option would best match the requirements of this approach because it involves the concerns of all the stakeholders and respects the rights of all those who have a stake. It creates transparency between all stakeholders to facilitate discussion and allows mutual understanding to develop and that every stakeholder’s concerns and voice will be heard. This is the option that has the least negative drawbacks and allows multiple smaller solutions to be implemented while respecting the stakeholder’s rights. 

The option that would best fit the Fairness or Justice Approach (Treats everyone the same, except if there is a justifiable reason not to, and does not show favoritism and discrimination) would be creating a user privacy based internet browser that would encrypt search history and internet activity to improve online privacy and reduce the amount of private or excessive data collection by companies and the government. This option would best match the requirements of the Fairness or Justice Approach because it would be an internet browser service that anyone can use to further protect themselves from being tracked and recorded while browsing the internet. The option to encrypt data is very useful as well because it can protect any personal information that is entered into any site from being accessed, regardless of what type of site it is entered into. 

The option that would best fit the Common Good Approach (Best serves the community as a whole and not just some members) would be raising awareness and teaching current and future generations about data collection and online privacy. This option would best match the requirements of the Common Good Approach because it best serves the community as a whole by raising awareness and educating all people on how to protect themselves on the internet and browse with the peace of mind of privacy. This awareness will motivate people to speak up and cause change by expressing concerns to government officials and teaching others what they learned. 

The option that would best fit the Virtues Approach (Which leads you to be your best and promotes the development of character in yourself and the community.) would be changing individual online behavior and browsing habits. This option would best match the requirements of the Virtues Approach because it focuses on personal growth and development by changing online habits to better protect their privacy and identity on the internet. It can also impact individual families and spread throughout the community and create a development of character in one’s self and the community by being more mindful of their internet activity and how to display themself while online.

Decide and Reflect:

Considering all the five approaches that we just mentioned, I believe that establishing online privacy laws and enforcing strict data management regulations within companies and the government while creating transparency between all stakeholders would be the best option because it respects every stakeholder and I think it is the most beneficial approach because it addresses the most crucial concerns while also covering the more minor concerns and creating a mostly positive outcome for all stakeholders. Lastly, this decision can be implemented with the greatest care and attention for the concerns of all stakeholders by again looking at the transparency created by establishing laws that will move companies to be more transparent with their users and protecting their privacy and the type of information that they share online.

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