[Enter name] [Enter [Enter Subject] [Enter Date] Personal Encryption: Should We Permit It? The era of capitalism and globalization has brought about phenomenal change in the flow of information around the world. This change took place with the explosion in information technologies that has been taking place in every facets of life at markedly rapid speeds…
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Phenomenal growth, as well as dependence on computer-related services, has resulted to greater worldwide demand for- and use of computers. Computers and their connecting networks have rapidly become a dominant force in government, business, education, recreation, and in virtually all other aspects of society in the United States and worldwide. Thus, according to Cate, more data are more than ever being digitized and are made available in digital format (1). Digital information is also now significantly easier to access, store and change than analog and nondigital data. Sending and receiving digital information is also much easier, especially from one geographic location to another. To borrow from Inda and Rosaldo (8), such technological information in the time of globalization has brought about a seeming compression of our sense of time and space as communication systems have made remote encounters possible. Data generation is also increasing because of the ease and very low cost of doing so and also due to increased valuation of data in the growing information-based world. Particular physical transactions have also been lessened with data substitution (Cate 2). For example, actual currencies need not be exchanged or handled in the process of electronic banking transactions and only data are manipulated. Various computer programs and websites have been programmed to automatically generate back-up copy of documents and other accessed data. As a result of such ease in computing and information technologies, more and more people could have access to information about other people. Cate shares that it is estimated that in 1994, U.S. computers alone hold and trade more than five billion records and information on every man, woman, and child an average of five times every day (5). The proliferation of- and our increasing dependence on computers and their effect on the volume of data created and recorded and on the ease and relatively low cost of data collection, manipulation and storage have prompted increased concern about privacy. Sadly, most people do not understand clearly that when one sends information over the internet which is a public network, anybody can read it by making a little bit of effort. Files with weak passwords and security measures are also prone to being accessed. Along with the revolution in information and computing came the rise in computer crimes due to the “borderless nature of cyberspace” and the openness of computer networks. Computer crime is defined by Saunders as “any conduct that employs information technology to accomplish an illegal purpose” (103). Collecting and personal data and private files are now vulnerable to computer hacking, cracking and criminal misuse. More so, access to the internet and to computers is relatively easy and cheap, and the ability to victimize a huge number of individuals and businesses is virtually unlimited. Thus, personal encryption is of ultimate importance in this era. Technically, encryption is the process of transforming information using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone, except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key. It is a practice of encoding data so that even when a computer or a network becomes unfortunately compromised, the data content will remain safe from access.
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