Self-regulation and First Amendment Issues


After going over all the Week 8 course material, the term “self-regulation” became more important to me. Too often do we rely on other people to regulate our information or to keep our information private. I am a member in many different things, like Vons, Ralphs, Costco, Amazon, Ebay, etc. and I put a lot of value on these organizations to protect my privacy and my identity. I never experienced a breach into my privacy, but I can definitely understand the raising concern with technological advances. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, [] there was a record high of 783 major breaches in identity and data, a number never seen before. Recent major breaches were Insurance companies, Target, CVS, etc. The Target one affected 40 million debit and credit cards as well as data on 70 million customers, a catastrophic breach of privacy, account information, and shopping patterns.

For some, self-regulation is the only tool to protect one’s full privacy and avoid identity theft. In many cases each individual is responsible for the information they are willing to share and give away, and a closer look at privacy policies would help identify certain risks. Being aware of the information shared and also being aware of the risk is only a first step. By googling my name, I found useful and less useful information, but was amazed by the images and links that we brought up on Google. Google is a strong tool to get more information about somebody, and it is important to control Google searches by changing the necessary areas of possible information leak. According to Jim Adler, “self-regulation remains the primary tool to ensure consumer information is handled responsibly” and we, the consumer, are responsible to regulate our information.
Debates about privacy are numerous and policies to protect one’s identity are often insufficient in the advent of technology and social media. Instead of relying on government actions to protect consumers and users, it should by our own role to protect ourselves from breaches. “Self-regulation is simply the most efficient way to protect consumers and encourage innovation”, Adler said. He talks about self-regulation for each individual, but also about self-regulation for the industry. Instead of waiting on change, the industry and individuals should push for change or start change on their own. I would not like to be a victim of a breach or identity theft, and I will definitely start to look more closely at policies, regulations, and terms of conditions. After all, it is in my hands if I want to share a post, image, like, etc. By preventing from posting something embarrassing I am making a first step towards protecting my own privacy.

Governmental intervention or freedom of speech and expression

The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” [].
When the 1st Amendment was ratified, there was only little way of freedom of speech and expression. Newspapers and the power of the oral word were often to only way to express an opinion and concern. Today, the 1st Amendment in its original form seems out of place and does not offer effective action against online content, privacy issues, etc. We are so interconnected nowadays that losing an smartphone can mean leaking tons of valuable information to the outside world. With iCloud and other online databases, we give away more and more privacy and make our lives more “public”. We as individuals often give away our right to privacy by signing terms and conditions and allowing others to access our information. Our data is sold to the highest bidder in order to increase promotion and targeted marketing. Just by visiting a website and looking at a certain product, cookies allow to publish and advertise that product on all pages I am visiting from thereon out.
So in my opinion, there needs to be a balance between governmental regulation and self-regulation. As an individual, I value my freedom of speech and expression, and I feel that the Internet offers me plenty of room and platforms to express myself and my ideas/opinions. But the Internet is also a platform for privacy issues and abuse. There are no limits or regulations on what is allowed anymore, and there needs to be tighter control of assault, abuse, and bullying. The freedom of one person ends when somebody else gets injured or insulted. I prefer more control when it comes to abusive behavior, and many people are not aware of their actions and the consequences.
Governmental interventions should only happen to support and protect citizens, but not take away their rights of speech and expression. Policies should be protective and preventative regulations, but not restrictions or harmful to the freedom of individuals. People often have issues with too much governmental intervention, especially in the US. Restrictions on online behavior will not be regarded as necessary or productive for freedom of expression. However, 9/11 took some rights away from US citizens and individuals in the US. The terror attacks enacted the Patriot Act, allowing for closer governmental supervision of interpersonal and online communication. Under the umbrella of national security, the government is able to listen in on conversations in order to filter out threats and menace to US citizens at home and abroad. These techniques, although a huge infraction of individual rights and privacy, serve as protection. Many things would have gone undetected if it weren’t for those measures. But the government is responsible to value privacy and individual rights all by protecting the population. Personally I do not feel to much violated by the measures, but at some level I might prefer my overall privacy to be not revealed or public.


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