Genuine Privacy in today’s world

Genuine Privacy in today’s world

Main body Section 1

The first section analyzes the quest for national security as an excuse for intercepting communication and personal information. Particularly, the role of governments in intelligence information gathering and collection of suspect information has been floated as a reason for tapping of information. While these activities are harmless theoretically, they pose the risk of undermining individual privacy among the targeted population. The paper studies past examples of governments that have misused the processes of intelligence gathering to suit their personal and political interests.

Main body Section 2

The second section addresses the role of government surveillance in undermining the privacy of individuals across the world. Normally, surveillance techniques have been used in the maintenance of national security and the protection of citizens. However, some of this surveillance information has ended up in the wrong hands and has also been used to target innocent individuals. For instance, cases in which governments have abused their powers to gather information aimed at quelling dissent have been reported. Essentially, some opposition members as well as opposing judges and civil servants have been assassinated from information collected via the intelligence gathering channels.

Main body Section 3

The last section looks into the role of personal information registration ion the limitation of individual privacy. Governments have used registration processes to spy on personal information of individuals within their jurisdiction. In the recent past, governments have passed legislations requiring telecommunication companies to reveal personal information related to clients to the state. Ideally, governments want to limit the number of anonymous mobile users through preregistration of persons when purchasing mobile phones and SIM cards. Moreover, efforts have also been targeted at internet users with an aim of controlling anonymous users.


Governments all over the world have continually intercepted personal communication under the disguise of national security. Logically, governments are allowed to intercept personal communication in apprehending criminals and enemies of the state. That notwithstanding, such protocols have been abused in exploitation of personal and political interests where opposition leaders have been targeted. This paper analyzes the general perceptions for the limitation of genuine privacy and counters the same with solid examples against the same. It expounds on the different ways through which individual privacy is limited with a special focus on government operations.


Genuine Privacy in today’s world

In the wake of widespread use of technology and intensified information gathering, there are issues regarding the protection of individual privacy. Governments and law enforcement agencies are renowned for intercepting personal information in their duty to protect the citizens. However, the information collected has in numerous instances been used wrongfully to quell political dissidents and silence members of the opposition. The result is a continuation of unending lawsuits against government agencies and in some cases the encryption of personal information. Even in the wake of these developments, the government has a primary role of ensuring national security and is therefore obliged to gather information for law enforcement processes (Gutwirth, 2002). Regardless, the process of information gathering presents a contentious issue due to the fact that it has been used in tampering with the confidentiality of individuals in the past. The outcome of these contentions has resulted in policy formulation to protect personal information and ensure the confidentiality of such information. In America, for instance, the constitution protects the confidentiality of information by declaring information collected wrongfully to be inadmissible in courts of law.  Indeed, the intensification of information gathering coupled with widespread use of technology has limited genuine privacy amongst individuals.

The advent of communication interception has resulted in the development of technologies that can protect information easily. Since time immemorial, military commanders and diplomat have devised ways of protecting the confidentiality of the information passed through communication channels. For instance, Julius Caesar is credited with having an effective method of protection his secret messages from interception by outsiders. Today, the methods of confidentiality protection are much more complex and involve technologically encrypting data sent through communication gadgets. For instance, the information there are applications that can code communication sent between two gadgets while maintaining the originality of the messages. In addition, some applications can also conceal the location of senders by blocking the visibility of one’s IP address when using a computer online. These developments have been brought about by the incidence of privacy violation on the part of citizens.

The quest for national security has resulted in a limitation of the individual genuine privacy (Best et al, 2006). Often, national security has been advanced as an excuse for infringement of personal information as government agencies intensify their attempts to intercept terrorist attacks. Indeed, the government must be alert to threats to national security and must always be at par with attempts to cause harm to the respective countries. It is the prerogative of agencies within the government to directly gather intelligence information that relates to threats against their countries. It is not only the role of gathering information that they are tasked with, however. Rather, the same institutions are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that confidential government information does not fall within the reach of entities planning attacks on the government.

While national security is a feasible reason for information gathering, the extent with which government agencies dig for information is an infringement on the rights of the citizens (Nissenbaum, 1998). There is a lot of tension regarding the gathering of intelligence information as well as the analysis of this information for national security. The nature of the agencies operations makes it difficult to collect specific information and often results in collection of information that is not necessary. The use of modern technology such as satellites in data collection may result in the gathering of information that may not even be relevant. In these cases, personal information regarding persons that are not even suspected may end up in the wrong hands thus jeopardizing their confidentiality. Moreover, the fact that intelligence information is not clearly identifiable results in collection of general information that may include personal data from citizens. The balance between national security and individual privacy is thus dictated by the different types of information required to ensure national security (Reedy, 1999).

In the process of gathering information, the rights to privacy of information of the citizens are often abused. In most instances, world governments as well as other agencies have cited the need for surveillance in monitoring of certain aspects as a basis for the collection of personal information. Normally, the need for surveillance is passed on the basis of monitoring of government borders and other environmental conditions (Introna & Pouloudi, 1999). Security agencies have been observed to have initiated widespread surveillance of its citizens with a goal of intercepting critical information. Normally, these activities are carried out under the disguise of collecting information relevant in maintenance of national security. The government has continually advanced its campaign to collect information related to legitimate security targets. The process usually involves the interception of communication channels such as emails and telephone conversations. In some of these surveillance operations, governments have successfully identified security threats including illegal trade in drugs and firearms. However, increased surveillance of personal information has also been on the rise under the disguise of national security surveillance (Belanger & Crossler, 2011). Therefore, individuals are continually under the threat of infringement of their personal privacy through disguised operations.

Although the intensification of surveillance is helpful in the identification of national security threats, it has been abused in many instances to infringe on the rights of individuals to privacy. Countless times, countries all over the world have failed to respect human rights through disguised operations. Governments have also instructed their intelligence agencies to engage in illegal surveillance of communications (Mason, 1986). Such technologies have been used to spy on dissidents, judges and politicians that are opposed to the government. Although the violations on privacy range across different countries, it is common practice for the actions to be spearheaded by the security agencies. The interception of communication is largely used as a political tool in the identification and control of dissident voices. The continued use of illegal surveillance and interception is a pointer to the lack of accountability and transparency in the use of government surveillance all over the world.

The registration of personal data is also used as a conduit in the collection of personal data. This strategy is effective in the documentation of personal details and has also been used in the processes of voting and identification of persons (Lyon, 2003). For instance, some countries have a requirement for real name registration during the purchase of mobile phones and the eventual activation of SIM cards. This is done to achieve a total elimination of anonymous communication through the registration of all mobile users. Effectively, the data in these records can be used to confirm the validity of one’s citizenship as well as their criminal records history. In some countries, governments have compelled telecommunication companies to identify and collect the information of mobile users for use in law enforcement agencies later. The measures as such are used in the identification of national security threats and the pinpointing of criminals in the country. Although normally used for individual users, the requirements have been extended to cover cyber cafes in some countries (Tan, 1999). However, the continued use of such technologies in information gathering limits the privacy of individuals.

The registration regimes are a total blow to anonymous users in the mobile telecommunication sector. There is a likelihood that such measures will be extended to internet users in the future with a requirement to reveal one’s IP address before transacting online. The government, in conducting such registration exercises fails to appreciate the fact that citizens should be able to use communication channels anonymously to disseminate covert information. By limiting the privacy of citizens, governments through their enforcement agencies assume that they are the sole custodians of privacy and misuse it at will. The habit of associating anonymity with criminality is a troubling trend especially in the field of business where formulas must be kept a secret (Norberg et al, 2007). Moreover, anonymity should be guaranteed for whistleblowers as well as persons that are legitimately opposed to government policies. Anonymity is not just restricted to these cases but extends to other life saving scenarios including among victims of violence and gender discrimination. The mere limitation of this right by governments is a limitation on genuine privacy among individuals.

The right to freedom should be provided to all citizens including the right to privacy. Over the years, this has not been the case as governments across the world engage in widespread gathering of information through intensified technologies. The result has been mistrust between the government and the citizens as the latter find ways of protecting their information. Some of the techniques used in gathering information and limiting privacy among individuals include surveillance, mobile registrations and intelligence gathering (Klosek, 2000). While these activities are legitimate in the sustenance of national security, they have often been abused to achieve personal goals. For instance, some have been used to exploit political or even personal interest by the respective agencies. Lately, citizens have appealed to technology to aid in the protection of personal data and information through concealing of location and the encryption of data. Regardless, this has resulted from a limitation in the individual privacy of citizens across the world.



Gutwirth, S. (2002). Privacy and the information age. Rowman & Littlefield.

Best, S. J., Krueger, B. S., & Ladewig, J. (2006). Privacy in the information age. Public Opinion Quarterly, 70(3), 375-401.

Nissenbaum, H. (1998). Protecting privacy in an information age: The problem of privacy in public. Law and philosophy, 17(5), 559-596.

Reedy, S. (1999). Privacy in the Information Age. Denv. UL Rev., 77, 569.

Introna, L., & Pouloudi, A. (1999). Privacy in the information age: Stakeholders, interests and values. Journal of Business Ethics, 22(1), 27-38.

Bélanger, F., & Crossler, R. E. (2011). Privacy in the digital age: a review of information privacy research in information systems. MIS quarterly, 35(4), 1017-1042.

Mason, R. O. (1986). Four ethical issues of the information age. Mis Quarterly, 5-12.

Lyon, D. (2003). Surveillance as social sorting: Privacy, risk, and digital discrimination. Psychology Press.

Tan, D. R. (1999). Personal privacy in the information age: Comparison of internet data protection regulations in the United Stats and European Union. Loy. LA Int’l & Comp. LJ, 21, 661.

Norberg, P. A., Horne, D. R., & Horne, D. A. (2007). The privacy paradox: Personal information disclosure intentions versus behaviors. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 41(1), 100-126.

Klosek, J. (2000). Data privacy in the information age. Greenwood Publishing Group.


Do you need an Original High Quality Academic Custom Essay?