Cyber ethics entails the study of the rules that govern the use of the internet. The internet makes the world seem like a global relationship or family. With people logging in every minute of the day, there are people bound to cause both harm and good to others. As a means of regulating internet use, a conflict has risen between privacy and security while using the Internet. The conflict is not a new thing with issues arising on surveillance and its stretch on privacy invasion. This dispute has become more pronounced with the increase in terror attacks, which are fuelled by online interactions. The need to protect people has led to surveillance of their online activities and records which most view as infringing on privacy. The spread of files by the government without sieving out the information of the Americans has enhanced the conflict. The increase of people using the internet has made the battle even bigger and more visible. A look through the history of America shows that spying by the government is not a new thing, but the use of the internet and terrorism has brought it back to light (Dourish & Anderson, 2006). The further conflict has emerged with questions on whether the government should look into a user’s history of internet use or leave it alone by the freedom of expression and right to privacy asked. Some people do not mind the invasion of privacy as long as it secures their safety and claim that those who view it as wrong are those that have something to hand. The most suitable scheme for resolving this conflict is to strike a balance between the two. This can be done through the protection of user information and only looking into it if there is a direct security risk associated with the particular user. This could enable the reduction of cases where people feel their privacy is being invaded in the name of security.
Even with measures being put to create a balance between privacy and security, several factors still make this difficult. An example is the presence of anonymous users on the internet who abuse their anonymity and lead to investigations to unearth their true identities. Anonymous users who abuse their privacy ruin it for everyone as they force security measures to be employed to discover their real identities. In the case of abused anonymity, protection has to be guaranteed, however great measures are being incorporated into balancing anonymity and security maintenance ( Postmes, Spears, Sakhel & De Groot, 2001) .
With the growth and spread of internet use, many people use the avenue to speak about what they feel is important to them. Some see it as an avenue to talk about political issues and discuss social change. As a result, many use anonymity to attack those that they feel are socially wrong. Platforms have been created where people hide their identities and bully or harass people. An example is the use of platforms that bash and attack homosexuals because they see them as sinful and immoral. In countries where political strife is a major factor, many people attack each other due to their differences in political beliefs. It should be the aim of the government and other security agencies to ensure that people do not use anonymity to harass other people. Measures should be put in place to control the amount of information one can write under anonymous status.
The use of anonymity to attack other people is recognized as civil disobedience. This is because it is a way of going against civil laws. Freedom of expression and right to privacy are some of the most abused civil laws. As much as civil rights movements advocate for the maintainer of the people’s rights, many commit civil disobedience by exploiting and misusing these rights. It is a human responsibility to use their rights responsibly, and this is done by responsibly using the internet. Cyber bullying and attacking people online under unknown status are irresponsible behavior and civil disobedience.
Internet service providers should be forced to monitor their sites to protect users from criminal perpetrators and bullies. Many stories have come up where teenagers and even grownups have committed suicide due to the amount of cyber bullying that goes on. Through the maintenance of regular monitoring, online theft can be reduced as it would easily be found out before it gets out of hand. Through monitoring the sites that the people visit, one can easily know the plans that the person has beforehand, and this can help prevent various situations from escalating such as terror attacks. It also enables the prevention of children from accessing sites that are not child-friendly and safe. Some children associate with sex predators and end up getting abused, and even abductors as the perpetrators pretend to be their friends and of similar age. Through monitoring, it is possible to protect children by noting that the account operator is not of the same age he or she claims to be. It would, therefore, be advisable to force internet providers to monitor the sites that their user’s access and the information they post. The government should put across laws that make sure that Internet service providers regularly control their user’s activity to promote security but to do it in a discreet way that ensures they maintain their user’s privacy by not leaking any of the information gathered to third parties.
The forcing of monitoring internet sites visited could lead to various reactions by the public including protests that it undermines the first amendment rights of the people. The first amendment rights of America state that the Congress shall not make any laws that will interfere with the people’s right to free expression. This might be infringed on if the government forces internet service providers to monitor sites visited by their clients as people will feel that their right to express themselves has been limited. Many will minimize what they freely want to talk about due to the fear that they will be monitored, and someone would know their exact moves, which most are not comfortable with. Before making a law on the monitoring of internet sites visited, the government should also ensure that the laws do not interfere with the rights of the citizens. This can be done through ensuring that the correct methods are taken to protect the privacy of internet users and ensuring that even though their movements are being monitored, their information and views are kept private and protected. The law should include a privacy clause that all internet service providers should comply with as they monitor the activities of their users.
- Dourish, P., & Anderson, K. (2006). Collective information practice: exploring privacy and security as social and cultural phenomena. Human-computer interaction, 21(3), 319-342.
- Postmes, T., Spears, R., Sakhel, K., & De Groot, D. (2001). Social influence in computer-mediated communication: The effects of anonymity on group behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(10), 1243-1254.