The beginning of the informational era and the wide use of computer technology in all spheres of human activity have brought many problems associated with the protection of privacy. This is mainly due to the processing of documents using computer technology. Many of the administrative measures to protect the privacy of individuals and organizations have lost their power due to the new types of document processing and transfer. Earlier when receiving personal letters, in business correspondence, telephone conversations, people used various means of authentication. Personal letters were sent with an indication of the current mailing address or stamp, for contracts conclusion were used special forms with unique serial number – many hundreds of administrative measures were aimed at protecting privacy in communication between people. With the introduction of computer technology in human life many privacy policies have changed, giving the way to many problems of protection of privacy in computer systems and the Internet. It is necessary to note that it is impossible to quickly and effectively solve problems associated with the protection of privacy in computer systems, and there is a need for an integrated approach to solving these problems. This approach should involve the use of organizational and legal measures, as well as software and hardware tools that protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability, but the main emphasis should be made on the state legislation.
To date, there is a set of rules for the organizations to work correctly with the information of a confidential nature, and which has a legal basis. The legal basis of information protection include civil legal and criminal means of protecting information (mainly sold through a lawsuit in civil litigation), as well as administrative and legal ways to protect information (which provide accountability for violations of the rights of holders of information). (Litman, 2000)
It is necessary to consider legislative and legal framework for privacy protection in the United States.
The U.S. legislation on the protection of confidential information is most developed, which is associated with an early transition of the U.S. to the new type of the information society. Data protection in the U.S. is different from data protection in Europe, since its methodology is the subject to primary legislation. First of all it is necessary to point the first and fourth Amendment to the Constitution, as well as the laws of consumer protection guarantee the right to limited confidentiality. In the area of privacy the primary was “The U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse» Act of 1984. The area of protected computers is broad and includes the computers of the state, enterprises and individuals. According to CFAA, the violator is a person who opens access to a protected computer and performs the following prohibited activities:
- Gets a “limited public information” for use against the state or on behalf of a foreign state;
- Gets the credit or financial data to the federally-maintained or supported by a financial institution;
- Explores the passwords in an international or foreign commerce;
- Uses, alters, destroys, or discloses information, or prevents the use of computers for or on behalf of the federal government. (NCSL, 2009)
In addition, in the U.S. Congress there are about 90 bills relating to secrecy of information, which are primarily aimed at protecting personal and medical data. For example, the Act on the protection of customer’s information on the Internet states that Internet service providers before the disclosure of personal customer information to third parties must obtain permission from the client. An important official document on the copyright on the Internet in the United States is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – the U.S. law on the rights to copy. It was designed to ratify the agreements of the World Intellectual Property Organization “Copyrights” and “On the performances and Phonograms Treaty”, and signed by President Clinton on October 28 1998. It touches such legal aspects as a direct copyright infringement by copying, the production and distribution technologies to circumvent the special protections against illegal copying. The act strengthens the responsibility for copyright infringement on the Internet, while protecting providers from liability for users’ actions. (NCSL, 2009)
Despite the existing legislation for the protection of confidentiality on the Internet, however, existing federal laws left unresolved a wide range of issues and situations of breach of privacy and confidentiality. The U.S. government has still not taken effective measures and restrictions on commercial electronic services. The nature of responsibility for violations of confidential information gives an indication of some over-regulation of this sphere of responsibility, and sometimes quite hard approach of the government to violations in this area. Is this a favorable practice, given that much of the fines goes to the state, not the victims of violations of individuals.
Proceeding from the overall analysis of the legislation on privacy on the Internet in the U.S., we can say that the importance of laws and legal foundations of privacy is high, as information security becomes a significant factor in welfare of the state, organizations and individuals. This is especially true for intellectual property and personal information online. Also, the legislation on confidentiality is extremely necessary when the information does not fall under the existing criteria of intellectual property, or when it has passed into the public domain.
Cranor, Lorrie F. (June 1998). “Internet Privacy: A Public Concern.” Lorrie Faith Cranor. netWorker: The Craft of Network Computing 2.3, pp. 13-18
Greenberg P. (October 19, 2009). “State Laws Related to Internet Privacy”. Ncsl.org. Web. Accessed 6 June 2011
Litman J. Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet. Prometheus Books, 2000
NCSL (October 9, 2009). “State Laws Related to Internet Privacy.” National Conference of State Legislatures. Web. Web. Accessed 6 June