Modern technology allows everyone to access information with the push of a button. Satellite technology and innovations in cell phones allow us to do whatever we want, wherever we want, and whenever we want. Unfortunately, as technology evolves, concerns about our privacy grows at the same pace.
Internet privacy is a new and rapidly expanding branch of law that is working overtime to establish parameters and protect the legal rights of all citizens. Internet Service Providers (ISP), cell phone carriers, and Wi-Fi hotspots are able to track information and patterns of behavior through Internet searches, phone calls, social media activity, and even through our online and in-store purchases. What these companies and our government are allowed to do with this information is becoming an increasingly delicate issue.
American citizens have an inherent right to their privacy. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was enacted to protect an individual’s right to confidentiality in regard to their personal health information. The Stored Communications Act (SCA) and Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) also serve to protect on-line communications. And the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects children on-line. Unfortunately, HIPPA, SCA, ECPA and COPPA can easily be violated when ISPs and websites sell personal data to companies that market their products to demographically selected individuals. Even our credit card and banking information is at risk when security breaches occur by savvy criminals.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has fought to protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens for over 100 years. Though the U.S. Constitution does not specifically mention the right to privacy, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that several amendments to the Constitution protect the privacy of American citizens.
The government and private interest groups are working feverishly to establish parameters and laws that define the nature of information the government and businesses have a right to access. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently working on a proposal that would allow consumers the choice to participate in programs that allow ISPs to generate offers for services they provide, and to require their explicit permission for data to be shared with third parties.
As new laws and regulations concerning Internet privacy evolve, current laws exist that provide a measure of protection. Knowing your legal rights is imperative to protecting your privacy. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act has received a lot of attention in the press lately. This law protects emails and digital messaging from being publicly disclosed.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act allows parents a certain measure of control over what information websites can collect from those under 13 years of age. Websites geared toward this demographic must comply with strict regulations. Social media sites, like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, are particularly vulnerable to these laws as many techno-savvy tweens find ways to access and peruse these sites.
Privacy concerns are a particular problem for financial institutions and healthcare/insurance businesses. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires loan companies, financial and investment brokers, and insurance providers to furnish all customers with privacy notices that explicitly detail the company’s policies on sharing information and steps they take to protect consumer data. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Health Breach Notification Rule mandates that web-based health and medical companies contact all customers in the event of a security breach.
The highly skilled New Jersey Internet privacy lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy are dedicated to providing our clients with the most updated and relevant information available on Internet privacy laws. If you or someone you know has had your right to privacy violated through the unauthorized use of your personal information, we can help you claim the justice you deserve. We counsel and represent clients throughout the entire legal process, committing ourselves to helping you understand and protect your rights at every step along the way.
Call us at 732-777-0100, or submit our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Red Bank, Toms River, and Edison, New Jersey, serving clients throughout the state.