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When is government use of spyware justified and what are the social and ethical issues?

Uploaded by grifd437 on Jun 02, 2004

Presentation of the Issue

Governments employ spyware to track potential criminals and suspected terrorists, specifically Osama bin Laden and Al’Qaida after the event of September 11, 2001 at New York and the Pentagon. It can happen however that these suspected criminals turn out to be innocent civilians. If this turns out to be the case, the government will have been invading certain individuals’ privacy for a little or no reason. Government officials monitor civilians at work and at home without them knowing . It was recently estimated in Great Britain that the average inhabitant of London would be filmed on Close Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) as often as 300 times a day .

Telephone calls can be tapped, mobile phones traced, e-mails can be read and even one’s keystrokes on a PC can be monitored, as is often the case when criminal justice is involved. Human rights activists debate the fact that the government’s use of Spyware is excessive and goes against the right to privacy. Given the tragic events of 9-11, is this ‘Big Brother’ approach of modern government justified or have governments become excessive in their surveillance?


IT background of the issue

There are two types of spyware:
Hardware includes Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, hidden microphones, GPS satellites, keyloggers, telephone taps, and bug tracers. CCTV cameras are used for monitoring jobs within a certain district and provide visual footage of the occurrences. Microphones are similar, but provide audio footage. Both devices provide digital feedback because it is more efficient to transmit and to record than analogous footage.

Software key loggers are a stealth software product that records every keystroke on a keyboard of a computer. They can be installed on machines by sending them as an e-mail attachment and they are mostly undetectable to anti-virus programs, but these are being modified to intercept spyware programs as well. The hardware version of key loggers are often mistaken for an obligatory part of the hardware and so are ignored because they either look like a part of a keyboard or are made to look like normal keyboards . Spyware by the name of ‘Real Time Spy’ is capable of monitoring subjects as they are online, which is known as real-time spyware, and then there is also spyware that allows the user to monitor all e-mail traffic on the subject’s machine , which is known as ‘WebMail Spy’.

Another limited form of key...

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Uploaded by:   grifd437

Date:   06/02/2004

Category:   Technology

Length:   5 pages (1,164 words)

Views:   2694

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