Cellular phones, computers and the internet have been for many years now, widely available for commercial use. Undeniably, such technologies have made casual life more productive in terms of the speed in which work can now be done. Cellular phones allow cordless communication in almost all places, all stations in the world; computers allow speedier processing of transactions, calculations and many other tasks; and the internet allows not only global communication but also better and more widely available databases of information which almost everyone with internet access can utilize.
Attached with such array of commercial benefits however, are possibilities of misuse and thus disadvantages that could not only affect one individual but also huge numbers of populations at one time in general. With these, technologies come more ways of violation of individual privacy as well as security. These stem from such technologies’ nature of mass connection.
The number of cellular phone users has been increasing. From 1997 to 2002, there has been 10-fold increase in global usage reaching 787 million (“GSM to Pass One-Billion Mark This Year”). This may mean better connection for these people but this may also mean an increase in the number of people probable of being violated of privacy. It is true that it is prohibited to access account information from private companies, but since the use of airwaves in this particular technology allows the personal tracking of the location of an individual, privacy cannot always be ensured.
There are still people who have unlimited access to such information and are capable of such violation, that is, location tracking without the consent of the concerned individual. This is especially true with the number of hackers, both experimenting and professional, out practicing. Individual information from private companies could also be tapped indiscriminately especially by government officials for their specific purposes. This may be beneficial (but may still be unethical) if the person concerned is a real crook, but for innocent individuals, the violation of privacy would be unwarranted.
The rise of the computers and the internet creates a new breed of crime. Computers are an efficient way of storing important and sometimes company critical files. This computer function allows company’s easier management and access to their files which are in many ways beneficial. But these benefits are not limited to the companies as the storage of information in the computer also allows professionals, particularly hackers, access to the information.
Just recently, 12 December 2006, it was reported by CNN that a number of names and personal information were exposed when a hacker attacked the database of the computer system of the University of California, Los Angeles (“Hacker Attack at UCLA Affect 800,000 people”). According to the same report, a survey released in October of this year showed that about a hundred colleges experienced a similar incident during the previous 12 months.
The information stolen in such cases usually include names, birth dates, medical records, social security numbers, home addresses and other personal information (“Hacker Attack at UCLA Affect 800,000 people”). Clearly, the computers and the internet allow newer and more technical way of thieving, the most controversial of which is identity theft.
The use of the internet has now evolved to allow even the purchase of items from objects as simple books to even loans and transactions can now be done conveniently through the internet using the credit card. It is this nature of internet transactions that allows identity theft through the internet. According to a report done by the Federal Trade Commission in 2003, the reported form of identity theft has been limited to those involving credit card transactions.
According to the same report, about 13% of the victims reported that their personal information was obtained during transactions during credit card purchases. Among those purchases include those done through the internet. Such information can be used by the thief in many ways such as obtaining government documents, purchasing online, obtaining loans, housing transactions, employment and filing of tax returns (Federal Trade Commission).
These are just some examples of how technology, particularly phones, the computer and the internet disadvantage individuals. There could be a lot more other ways. Phones and computers have also been used in propagating pornography especially with the increase in use of video cameras, file sharing and websites that support such.
Computer viruses had been and can still be easily distributed to corrupt several company and even government files, causing significant losses both in the concerned company as well as in the society in general. Freund cited a survey of the FBI that about 500 U.S. companies suffered significant financial losses amounting to $455.8 million in 2002.
Technology is a powerful tool and is undeniably beneficial to the society especially with the ease in living it contributes to every individual. But as much as it is powerful and beneficial, it can also do harm because everything with advantages can always be exploited to bring otherwise. The results that technology brings just all depend on how the user chooses to use it.
Freund, G. “Perspective: Hacking 2003, The New Agenda.” Cnet News.Com. Cnet Networks, Inc. 2006.
Federal Trade Commission. “Identity Theft Survey Report.” Sep 2003. Synovate.
“GSM to Pass One Billion Mark This Year.” 2003. Cellular.co.za.
“Hacker Attack at UCLA Affect 800,000 People.” CNN.com. 12 December 2006. Cable News Network LLP.