Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy

The things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. With every click, we entrust our conversations, emails, photos, location information and much more to companies like Facebook, Google and Yahoo. But what happens when the government asks these companies to hand over their users' private information?

Today, private companies are tracking as many of our movements as they can online, selling that information to other companies who in turn share it with law enforcement and the government. The technology they use to do this tracking is advancing rapidly and has become highly sophisticated, and individuals have little chance of keeping abreast of what is taking place when they surf, let alone taking the complex steps necessary to prevent this spying.

As stewards of our digital lives, companies are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping private information private. Companies should:

    • Tell you when the government is asking for your information so that you can protect yourself;
    • Disclose how often they share information with the government;
    • Stand up for user privacy in the courts and in Congress. Most urgently, companies should advocate for an update to the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which was passed in 1986, before the Internet as we know it today even existed.

Americans shouldn’t have to choose between new technology and keeping their personal information private. Protections for online privacy are justified and necessary, and the government must help draw boundaries to ensure that Americans’ privacy stays intact in the Digital Age.

Additional Resources

Demand Your dotRights (feature): The more we do online, the more data we leave behind. The ACLU believes it's time to pass new privacy laws. You shouldn’t have to choose between using new technology and keeping control of your private information.

TAKE ACTION: Modernize Our Privacy Law! (2010 action): Please join us in asking Congress to modernize our electronic privacy law. Today, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which should safeguard electronic communications records (like your email or chat logs) and the information you share with companies is in serious need of an update. The government should have to go to a judge and get a warrant that says it has probable cause to believe you’ve committed a crime before it can read your email, browse through your social networking account, or track your location.

TAKE ACTION: Hey! Do You Use The Internet? (2011 action): The things we do and say online leave behind ever-growing trails of personal information. With every click, we entrust our conversations, emails, photos, location information and much more to companies like Facebook, Google and Yahoo. But what happens when the government asks these companies to hand over their users' private information? As stewards of our digital lives, companies are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping private information private. 

Most Popular

Facebook Addresses Several Privacy Problems (2010 blog)

Judge Cites Privacy Concerns in Rejecting Google Books Settlement (2011 blog)

ACLU Joins AT&T, Google And Privacy Groups To Urge Updates To Privacy Law (2010 press release)

 

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