Privacy In Digital Age

I read an update on our privacy rights in this fast-changing technological world. I think the information is so important that I'm going to summarize it here, but please go to Kim Komando so you can read the full article.

Privacy's Slippery Slope

No one would argue that technology changes at warp speed in today's world. For the most part, that's good because it enables us to work more effectively and faster. However, this changing technology often means that it's easier to be spied on by government, big business, and even by hackers looking to steal your valuable private information.

This also means that court cases pop up when individuals think their rights are being eroded or when government thinks our national security is being eroded. There's no easy answer or resolution, but, as users of technology, we need to be aware of what's going on in judicial cases. If you feel threatened or at risk in any way, retain a lawyer with experience in handling these cases.

If you really want to stay informed about what's going on in the digital rights arena, go to Electronic Frontier Foundation, a watchdog organization on digital rights.

Why Know This

Knowing your rights is part of being a citizen. This information is also good to know if you're a writer so you'll accurately present what is possible in your plots. Readers should be aware of this so they'll know if what they read in a thriller is an accurate portrayal of what happens in real life.

8 Basics About Digital Rights

1. At your workplace you have no digital rights. That means NEVER use a company computer for personal business even if it's a one line tweet about something of no consequence. If you do, no matter how insignificant or trivial, you are granting your employer just cause to dismiss you without recourse.

Needless to say, courts have consistently sided with employers if it goes that far. You may think you can blog at home about how horrible your employers are, but you may suffer the consequences of your actions because it has been held that the 1st Amendment right to free speech does not protect you from your private employer; it protects you against the government.

2. If you're traveling and have left the U.S. and are returning to the U.S., authorized agents have the authority to examine your laptop or other electronic storage device, and they don't need probably cause or a warrant. Homeland Security power supersedes your 4th Amendment right that protects against unreasonable search and seizure. It's all about fighting terrorism and crime, and that's not necessarily a bad thing in today's world. I hate to say this, but sometimes, in order to stop heinous crime, there's a trade-off between what is desirable and what is realistically possible. Like I said, this is a slippery slope.

3. Police do need a search warrant to search your home electronic storage devices, like a computer, unless you agree to a search. If they have a search warrant, it must specifically state what they're looking for which, I believe, is the same way it works for a search warrant in a criminal case such as murder. They can't force you to divulge passwords unless they get a court order from a judge or grand jury.

4. Laws vary from state to state about smartphones which are also data storage devices. You may find your phone searched or seized. Everything depends on the state statutes. Read the full article by Kim Komando for more info.

5. Your cellular provider may be asked for subscriber information. That happened 1.3 million times last year.

6. Internet browsers and web service providers may be asked for the same thing. You agree to that every time you agree to a website's Terms of Service.

7. Credit card companies may also be subpoenaed for the information they have about you. You also agreed to that with their Terms of Service.

8. Surveillance happens much as you see it portrayed in movies and television. You can be tracked by your smartphone, by your vehicle that's GPS equipped, by your toll tag use, and even by your retail purchases when you use those courtesy cards pressed upon you by grocery stores and department stores.

Takeaway Truth

There are no easy solutions to the problems that confront us today. Since my husband travels a lot on business, I, for one, want his air travel to be as secure as possible. If that means government snooping into emails, phone conversations, etc. then that's something I can live with because I never want to see another day like 9/11.


  1. I strongly disagree with your assumption that the voyeuristic behaviour of a government entity, heavily influenced by companies and run by people who have scandals of their own, makes you safer. The proliferation of guns, both for personal use and overseas to organizations like the Taliban (yes, at one point the US sold weapons and trained the Taliban) is what, in my opinion, makes everyone less safe and yet many countries still do this. 9/11 was a horrific incident. It's also a very complicated one. But of course, this is just my opinion. I hope I'm not put on a black list because I shared it.

  2. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinion -- at least in this country.

    You are correct that 9/11 was complicated -- just as Pearl Harbor was and any number of other like events in history.