National Security vs. the Right to Privacy Essay

1769 Words8 Pages
Abstract: Electronic mail is quickly becoming the most prevalent method of communication in the world. However, e-mail systems in corporate, institutional, and commercial environments are all potential targets of monitoring, surveillance and ultimately, censorship.

Electronic mail is a phenomenon that has begun to pervade all aspects of our lives today. We use e-mail in our personal lives, at our schools, at our jobs, and everywhere in between. However, very few of us consider the fact that even though our e-mail is composed by the sender, and is intended to be read only by the recipient, it actually passes through many hands in between. Transmitted e-mail will often travel through up to 5 or 6 different servers on
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Although Worthington has been violating the privacy of Silicon Techronics employees by reading their e-mail, he is also exposing the fraudulent business practices inside Silicon Techronics that would otherwise go unnoticed. Furthermore, Worthington was one of the first to know of John Cramer's drinking problem, and was able to bring it to Michael Watterson's attention. Back in reality, the Federal Bureau of Investigation cites that in addition to "terrorists, spies, hackers,...dangerous criminals[,]" and child pornographers, Internet stock fraud costs investors "approximately $10 billion per year (or nearly $1 million per hour)." (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Thus, conscientiously applied e-mail surveillance can produce ethically satisfying and morally sound effects.

On the other hand, there are equally compelling arguments against the surveillance of e-mail. The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution maintains that citizens shall never be subject to illegal searches or seizures. However, the Supreme Court has not conclusively ruled whether or not the surveillance of e-mail constitutes illegal search and seizure. Even so, the 4th Amendment was clearly drafted with the intention of preventing authorities from having complete and unhindered access to private property, and as people's information is their property, a court
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