The development in Information Technology (IT) plays an important role in the greater interaction and communication of people in various parts of the globe. During the process of communication, the exchange of personal information could not be prevented among people. However, this kind of activity also threaten the privacy of people because the emergence of the Internet and other technological tools have made it possible to have easy access to information even the ones that are consider as private. Being the case, it is important that privacy and surveillance in IT is given due attention.
Privacy is defined as “ . . . he interest that individuals have in sustaining a personal space, free from interference by other people and organizations” (Clarke, 1999). Nevertheless, according to Brock Meeks (1999) the privacy of people during this information age is being “eaten away” and is already dead because of the various means that could be used in order to infringe upon it. Cyberspace is invading the privacy of individuals and this could be seen through spam, cookies, and the clickstream. However, there are also invasion of privacy that could be detrimental to the security of a person like the real-time person-location technologies (Clarke, 1999).
Furthermore, ethical issues have also emerged in the exchange of information and communication of people especially in the workplace. Employees are expecting their privacy would be respected in the e-mails that they exchange with other people but this is sometimes not satisfied because of the need of the company to control and monitor the flow of information in the workplace (Weisband and Reinig, 1995). As such, this has become one of the most debated ethical as well as legal issues that need to be addressed.
Personal information privacy is the ability to control information about oneself is becoming more important than ever (Millberg et. al, 1995). In relation to this, there are several preventive measures and laws that could be implemented in order to protect the privacy of individuals. Some of the programs that protect the privacy of people in relation with the use of the Internet are: the Privacy Preference Project (P3P) which is a simple automated way of controlling the use of personal information on websites, file encryption, firewalls, and access control systems (Quinn, 2005).
The Australian government has its Australian Privacy Act that is mainly responsible in controlling privacy matters in the country (Australian Privacy Foundation, 2009). Moreover, surveillance of the flow of information in the workplace and other organizations is still debatable but it is indeed helpful in protecting the privacy of people against those who would want to have access of their personal information. However, surveillance in IT should also be responsibly used for security purposes only and not to cause harm to other people.