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Electronic Media, Censorship, and Individual Privacy

Media as the fourth pillar of the American Government

Power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent
Controls the minds of the masses/ helps form opinions and
make judgments regarding different issues
Informative bridge between the government and the general

Types of Media
Print: the oldest and the most effective type. It includes any
type of material that can be printed.
Broadcast Media
New Age/ Electronic Media
First Amendment to the Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances.
Does the freedom
Internet Free Expression Alliance
Quote: The Internet is a powerful and positive forum for free
It is the place where "any person can become a town crier
with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any
soapbox," (as the U.S. Supreme Court recently observed).

Internet users, online publishers, library and academic
groups and free speech and journalistic organizations share a
common interest in opposing the adoption of techniques and
standards that could limit the vibrance and openness of the
Internet as a communications medium.
Indeed, content "filtering" techniques already have been
implemented in ways inconsistent with free speech principles,
impeding the ability of Internet users to publish and receive
constitutionally protected expression.

Some definitions of Censorship
Censorship in all its forms is often unjustifiable and is used
simply to stop truths or ideas emerge, which draw attention to
the powerful people or governments or undermine ideology.
This is unexcusable (Article 19)
Its the policy of restricting the public expression of ideas,
opinions,conceptions, and impulses which are believed to
have the capacity to undermine the governing authority or the
social and moral order which authority considers itself bound
to protect. (Henry J. Abraham)
Its the suppression of speech or other public communication
which may be considered harmful, sensitive or inconvenient
to the general body of people as determined by a government,
media outlet, or other controlling body.
Types of Censorship
It can be political, religious, moral, or even military.
There exists two distinctive forms of censorship:
Prior: advance suppression
Post facto: suppression after publication
The Supreme Court Versus Censorship
The issue of censorship is one that strikes the Supreme Court
at many angles with regards to the first amendment rights.
Roth V. United States
Texas V. Johnson
Reno V. A.C.L.U.

According to John Gilmore, a founding member of the EFF

(Electronic Frontier Foundation)
"The Inernet interprets censorship as damage, and
routes around it."
Yet, because of the Internet's robust design, it is impossible to
completely block access to information except in very limited
and controlled circumstances
blocking access to a specific site from a home computer
using a firewall to block certain sites from employees on a
workplace network.
Freedom of Speech and Press on the Internet
The Free Software Foundation supports the freedoms of
speech, press, and association on the Internet.
Save the Web is a movement dedicated to ensuring that the
highest priority of Internet law in Europe is to protect
individual Internet users' rights.

Freedom of Information Act

(FOIA), enacted in 1966, was the first law that gave Americans
the right to access the records of federal agencies.
The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create
a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by
state or local government agencies.
Public use of the Freedom of Information Act continues to
rise, with 1,965,919 FOIA requests filed with federal agencies
in fiscal year 1999.
The intent of the FOIA is to prevent agencies from having
secret law and to make the government accountable to the
public for its actions.
The right to privacy
The right to privacy
The right to privacy refers to the concept that one's personal
information is protected from public scrutiny. U.S. Justice
Louis Brandeis called it "the right to be left alone.
Implicit in the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 14th Amendments
The right to privacy most often is protected by statutory law.
For instance, the Health Information Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects a person's health
information, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
enforces the right to privacy in various privacy policies and
privacy statements.

Five principles of privacy protection

Notive/Awareness: notice of collection practices prior to
collecting information
choice/Consent: consumers to be made aware of options. No
information collection without approval
Access/Participation: be able to access and challenge
Integrity/Security: must be assured data is secure
Enforcement/Redress: gvt. Legislations or legal remedies
Internet and right to privacy
Internet and the right to privacy
Difficulty of applying traditional law to the net.
Self-regulated medium, i.e. internet industry governs itself.
Many internet companies collect users personal information.

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act of 1974 provides safeguards against an
invasion of privacy through the misuse of records by Federal
The act also permits an individual to gain access to most
personal information maintained by Federal agencies and to
seek amendment of any inaccurate, incomplete, untimely, or
irrelevant information
Agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act are also
subject to the Privacy Act

The Financial Monetization Act of 1999 requires financial

institutions to provide customers with a privacy policy that
explains what kind of information is being collected and how
it is being used. Financial institutions are also required to
have safeguards that protect the information they collect from

The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects personal financial

information collected by credit reporting agencies. The act
puts limits on who can access such information and requires
agencies to have simple processes by which consumers can get
their information, review it and make corrections.
FTC (Federal Trade Commission) found that
97% of websites studied collected personal information
57% of websites studied contained third-party tracking devices
92% of consumers concerned about the misuse of their
personal information online
50% hesitant using credit-card numbers for online

Computer users are finding programs on their computers that
they did not know were installed and that they cannot

The programs create privacy problems and open security holes

that can
hurt the performance and stability of their systems
lead them to mistakenly believe that these problems are
the fault of another application or their Internet provider.
Children and Internet
Accessibility of Information
Decency Act of 1996 (CDA)
Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPA)
which prohibits websites from collecting personal information
from children under the age of 13.
Blocking and filtering which allow users to select what kind of
information can or cant be perceived through browsers.
Parents counsel
Internet Filters
The first way companies go about filtering inappropriate content
is by having a team of human researchers reviewing thousands of
websites looking for not only trigger words but also pictures and
subject matter that may be inappropriate.

The second way that Internet filtering companies compile their

databases is through the use of electronic scanning devices, which
continually browse the Internet, looking for key words such as
porn or any other explicitives.

Along with the feature of updating ones filtering software,

parents or whomever is doing the filtering has the option to
manually set boundaries on what content is allowed to be
viewed and what isnt allowed.

Also, one of the most common Internet filtering software in

the world, CyberPatrol
, is offered to customers for the home, the office, or even the
Types of social networks
Free Protocols Foundation The Free Protocols Foundation
(FPF) is an independent public forum, dedicated to the
support of patent-free protocols.

Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF, the Electronic Frontier

Foundation, is a non-profit, non-partisan organization
working in the public interest to protect fundamental civil
liberties, including privacy and freedom of expression, in the
arena of computers and the Internet.

Electronic Privacy Information Center EPIC is a public

interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was
established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil
liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment,
and constitutional values.
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility CPSR is a
public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others
concerned about the impact of computer technology on
society. they work to influence decisions regarding the
development and use of computers because those decisions
have far-reaching consequences and reflect basic values and

Global Internet LibertyCampaign The GILC comprises of

members from American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic
Privacy Information Center, Human Rights Watch, the
Internet Society, Privacy International, the Association des
Utilisateurs d'Internet, and other civil liberties and human
rights organizations. They advocate the prohibition of
censorship of on-line communication, and insist that on-line
free expression should not be restricted by indirect means
such as excessively restrictive governmental or private
controls over computer hardware or software,
telecommunications infrastructure, or other essential
components of the Internet.

Electronic surveillance
The Internet poses threats to personal security and privacy.
Sensitive information is circulating in electronic form,
including telephone conversations, FAX messages, electronic
mail, fund transfers, trade secrets and health records.

The same technological advances that have brought enormous

benefits to humankind also make us more vulnerable than
ever before to unwanted and potentially dangerous snooping
business competitors
Nosy neighbors
Privacy International

a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on

surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and

PI is based in London, England, and has an office in

Washington, D.C.

PI has conducted campaigns and research throughout the

world on issues ranging from wiretapping and national
security, to ID cards, video surveillance, data
matching, police information systems, medical
privacy, and freedom of information and expression.

Anonymity. How safe are you?

Remaining anonymous on the Internet helps secure your

identity, and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.
Knowledge is the best weapon against the threat of being
Should one be able to remain anonymous on the Internet?
The United States has done a noble job in reserving many the
rights of citizens that most countries wouldnt dream of
While the First Amendment is sometimes seen as a
controversial Amendment that is always coming under fire, it
still protects many rights to which most citizens take for
granted. Therefore, while some the material on the Internet
can and should be deemed legally obscene, there is still so
much information that, for the sake of intellectual progress,
can never be censored.

Suggested readings
Whos Watching you on the Web?,aid,14817,00.asp
Noam Cohen, Its Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not
Even Know, New York Times, March 26, 2011.
Adam Thierer, The Pursuit of Privacy in a World Where
Information Control is Failing, Harvard Journal of Law and
Public Policy, Spring 2013