Discuss about the Digital Legacy and Privacy.
In modern world, data is considered as power. In today’s world the communication nad transaction are mostly digital. Hence, it is important for the organizations and individuals to opt for securing the privacy of the digital data. However, this policy of digital privacy often becomes a nightmare for a few users. In the discussed two instances in the provided case studies, the policy of digital privacy has become an insensitive bar to the families of some deceased social media users. Moreover, in the context of increasing cases of crime and terrorism, this policy of digital privacy is continuously becoming a threat to the civic lives.
According to the Australian legal framework, privacy is the right of a person to “protection from infringement into their personal lives, and to control the flow of their personal information”. Privacy cannot be claimed an absolute right; it varies in different circumstance and is balanced against other challenging rights and legal obligations. As mentioned by Quinn, (2014) the popular idea of privacy not exactly differs to the legal idea of privacy. The idea of “privacy” can be dignified as a personal right of an individual.
On the other hand, the idea of digital privacy can be identified as the idea of data security in the online interface. As the modern world spends most of its life span over the digital environment, the parts of their lives becomes shared in this interface. It is important for them to be protected for their personal, societal as well as national security. As mentioned by Goldie & Michael, (2014) with the divulgence of the “Wikileaks Controversy” the idea of digital privacy is continuously gaining ground everywhere.
However, even the majority of the users of the virtual life are concerned with the privacy issues and hoping to make it stronger, a number of people are actually standing against it. If the scenario of Australia can be reviewed, it can be noticed that the national law is intensely focusing on getting access to the information of data usage of the nationals.
Even though the international social media companies are trying to provide an extensive level of digital privacy to the users, the government is creating laws to disrupt the “Digital Privacy” in Australia. However, with the emergence of the “Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015,” the national government has posed a direct access to the data shred via tele-communication sources. As mentioned by Butler & Rodrick, (2015) though it has disrupted the sense of privacy, but it has provided relief to the security authorities of the nation. However, in the given context, as described by Aminnezhad, Dehghantanha & Abdullah, (2012) it s a matter of hope that among the social media users of Australia “only nine per cent of people trust social media websites to protect their information.” However, the nation has no legal mandate for the digital sites to compel them to share the data to the family members of a deceased user. As described in the given case studies, it have been noted that the families are suffering an extensive emotional distress due to this digital privacy. However, the Australian government has no stand regarding this.
By focusing the concentration over the issues discussed in the two case studies, a number of concerns can be associated to the digital materials. As the majority of people are now spending digital lives in the online interface, it becomes easier for everyone to be aware of the secrets of his/her life. Hence, it is important to obtain a strategy of protecting these data from being intruded and used with wrong purpose. It is one of the major concerns of the users in the online interface. However, there are data security policies which the web based companies use to ensure security to data of the users, which creates another concerns. As opined by Ahmed & Booth, (2016) with the organization’s mandatory rules of digital privacy, the security officers often find it difficult to get consultation with a huge source of potential useful data. It limits the power of investigation for the security forces. On the other hand, as discussed in the given case studies, the policy of digital privacy is restricting the family members of a deceased user to obtain the information related to that person. however, the importance of digital privacy can also not be ignored for all of the same reasons.
Hence, ensuring the data privacy is a prerequisite for the users of various digital media. As discussed by Wessels, (2012) a number of options can be considered regarding this:
Create a back up: as discussed by Cherry, (2013) the digital data are in constant threat of being eliminated by mechanical malfunction or other issues. with a back up the data can be recovered and also be altered if necessary.
Make the old hard drive unreadable: as opined by Goldie & Michael, (2014) many data are being regularly intruded by the means of old and unused hard drives. The users need to make the drives unreadable before disposing them.
Here, the idea of digital legacy takes the centre stage. Legacy is what one leaves behind when he leaves a place. A “legacy” can include anything, be it “memories, traditions, relationships, things, arts or systems.” However, as mentioned by Sharp, (2013) digital legacy is the information that a person leaves behind when leaving that digital interface. It not only includes the photos, images, videos or contents they share in the social media, but also encompasses the sons, movies, numbers, and files in hard drives.
However, such a strong policy of data protection sometimes creates problem. The US government has a strong legal framework for the companies, which use the personal data of the users like, Google, Facebook and many more, which force them to provide families right of entry to the accounts of relatives of a deceased user. As mentioned by Sumeeth, Singh & Miller, (2012) Facebook has launched its new application of “Tools for Parents & Educators.” They have launched it with the aim of providing access to the information of the users to their parents.
As discussed in the given case study, the idea of passing on the digital estate can be valid option for the users as well as the family members. As opined by Reynolds, (2011) the websites can introduce the idea of passing on the whole data and digital material collection of a member to his/ her family members after the death of the user. It can be a mandatory rule for the websites that they have to comply with the policy with all of its users. The organizations can make a separate data storage for each of its users and provide the whole access to it to the family members. However, in this case, the organizations must take prior permission to the user. They need to make a compulsory agreement regarding this before providing the opportunity of their service to the users. It may help in ensuring the ownership of digital property in a way of passing the digital estate. Moreover, the users must make known the importance of sharing the information to the security authority as well as the family members. They need to keep a back up of all the data shared in his/ her virtual life and keep it safe with an organization. They will pass it on to the family members after his/her death.
With the change of time, the idea of Digital legacy and privacy has been changed a lot on digital access of non-active online account. Previously there was not any legal boundary to the organization for sharing the data for a non-active online account. However, in the recent times, the governmental regulations regarding this particular issue has changed the orientation of operation of the companies. In the context of Australia, “The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Privacy Amendment Act)” has provided the investigation authorities an extensive chance of getting access of such data. It was not previousky possible for the national organizations. The example of “Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015,” has to be mentioned in this regard too.
Hence, it can be said that previously it was hard for entities except the user to get access of the data. Now, with the governmental interventions, information can be recovered from an unused account.
In conclusion, it can be said that the idea of “privacy” can be identified as people’s personal right. As the right they enjoy in their real life, it should also be endowed to them in their virtual life. However, the websites should maintain some humane policies regarding the accessibility of this right. There should be governmental mandate regarding the accessibility of the digital legacy of an individual to his/ her kith and kin. It is not only an issue of emotional attachment. A big concern of national and personal security can also be associated to it. There are countries, which have enabled themselves to provide this right to the family members and the governmental authorities. It is true that Australia is also heading towards formulating such laws, but not a very significant step can be noticed. The Australian government should think about it and formulate law which will give the required access as well as the right to digital legacy.
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Aminnezhad, A., Dehghantanha, A., & Abdullah, M. T. (2012). A survey on privacy issues in digital forensics. International Journal of Cyber-Security and Digital Forensics (IJCSDF), 1(4), 311-323.
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Goldie, B., & Michael, K. (2014). Changes to Digital Privacy Laws-But are Consumers Aware?.
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