Arthur R. Miller’s article “ The National Data Center and Personal Privacy” written in 1967 focuses on the new-at-the-time technology of databases and the worries it brings about such as individual freedom and privacy, permanent information that can always be tracked down. All these problems listed by the author relate to the fear of surveillance the technology is able to offer to the government.

The article I found which emphasizes the uses of databases, also rises the ethical question about whether the line should be drawn before people’s privacy is breached.

The article is called “Database tracking students causes privacy concerns”. It talks about UK plans on entering student information on an electronic database form the age of 14; this information includes the student’s grades, personal information and exclusions. Now, the big question is; is this really ethical? A record like this can mean that the information is permanent where even when the student has graduated it is still out there electronically for someone to track down should they want to know more about them. For example, a student’s record for exclusions can affect a job he/she is applying to get if the employer was to look up for some background detail. And is it necessary to have such personal detail as if every punishment or detention one gets in school is an unforgivable sin. It creates an argument of whether it is worth to record minor data when it not going to matter for the person but could have a negative impact on their lives.

Now, because the databases are dynamically linked websites; it is accessible on the internet as mentioned in article by teachers, employers and training agencies. This means that all the information belonging to the students of UK is at the fingertips of almost anyone.

This kind of necessary surveillance, if it’s even necessary, should always have a policy guaranteeing that information would be strictly private and secure where after the student graduates is disposed of. This means that it would not be accessible by employers, agencies, and basically everyone else other than the student.

If you want to read further on the topic and make your own mind up about this argument; here are the links I used:

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/03/31/the-national-data-center-and-personal-privacy/

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2256044,00.html

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