This post will address the importance of consumer privacy. With the increase in technology businesses are now selling consumer data to other companies who are trying to market to the original businesses customers (Lawrence & Webber, 2014). According to Dr. Fischer, the United States government has stepped up its efforts to protect the consumer from corrupt business practices (Fischer, 2011). This post will look at the some of the steps that the government has taken to protect consumer privacy and whether consumer privacy is a right worth regulating.
Steps to Protect the Consumer
Awareness for consumer privacy is on the rise. In the 1970’s, only 30% of Americans felt they needed privacy protection. That number jumped to 80% by the 1990’s (Dommeyer & Gross, 2003). “Privacy laws generally specify what kinds of personal information can be collected and how that information can be used” (Gibbons, 2002, para. 5). Of the many consumer privacy laws, the United States and European Safe Harbor framework that was established in 2001 set up rules that protected the transfer of consumer data on an international scale. These rules required U.S and European companies to notify the consumer how personal data may be used. In addition, U.S. companies must allow consumers to opportunity to opt-out of sharing certain type of data. The framework also requires all personal data to be securely stored and gives the consumer the opportunity for proper recourse if their data was compromised (Boyarski, Fishman, Lawrence, Linn, & Young, 2001). As recently as 2013 the Federal Trade Commission has used its authority to place pressure on companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other companies to comply with the Safe Harbor framework (Commissioner Julie Brill’s, 2013).
The Right of Privacy
The right to privacy is a complex issue. “Perhaps the most striking thing about the right to privacy is that nobody seems to have any very clear idea what it is” (Alfino & Mayes, 2003, para. 1). Alfino and Mayes go on to describe that the events of September 11th, 2001 changed the way many people looked at privacy. Privacy did not seem as important to the individual when less privacy could possibly keep them alive, however, the authors admit privacy is key to freedom (Alfino & Mayes, 2003). A proper balance between privacy and surveillance is important. “We have obligations not to commit crimes or harm others. But, otherwise, we should be free to go about our daily lives without fear of unwarranted intrusion or surveillance by governments, businesses, employers, or anyone else” (Sharp, 2006, para. 5).
The right to privacy is key to freedom, however, that freedom stops when it endangers another. The September 11th attackers did not have the right to kill over three thousand Americans. A common example is used with freedom of speech. An American can say what he wants, but he cannot yell fire in a movie theater. As a concealed carry permit holder my right to carry is prohibited in certain buildings due to the possible danger that can take place there. Privacy can be limited for public safety. Privacy does need to be protected for consumer data. As the Administrative Pastor, I am required to keep many documents confidential. On the financial end, I am required to keep salaries and giving confidential. In the area of ministry, all background checks and counseling sessions are kept confidential. If I fail in those areas of confidentiality, trust is lost and I lose my ability to serve my consumers effectively.
Alfino, M., & Mayes, G. R. (2003). Reconstructuring the right to privacy. Social Theory and Practice, 29(1), 1-18.
Boyarski, J. R., Fishman, R. M., Lawrence, J. D., Linn, J., & Young, T. (2001). US corporations may fail to meet EU privacy standards. Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 13(11), 28-29.
Commissioner Julie Brill’s Opening Panel Remarks European Institute Data Protection, Privacy and Security: Re-Establishing Trust Between Europe and the United States. (2013, October 13). . Retrieved April 30, 2014, from http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_statements/data-protection-privacy-security-re-establishing-trust-between-europe-united-states/131029europeaninstituteremarks.pdf
Dommeyer, C. J., & Gross, B. L. (2003). What consumers know and what they do: An investigation of consumer knowledge, awareness, and use of privacy protection strategies. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 17(2), 34-51.
Fischer, K. BMAL 560 Audio Lecture Series: The People Side of Business [PointCaste Presentation].
Gibbons, R. (2002). Privacy laws and global insurance markets. Journal of Insurance Regulation, 20(4), 71-79.
Lawrence, A., Weber, J. (2014). Business and Society. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. New York, New York.
Sharp, R. (2006, Dec). THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY-A NEW OXYMORON? our privacy shield is getting badly battered on every front.CCPA Monitor, 12, 14-15+.