Abstract - The Information Society 15(4)

Web Security and Privacy: An American Perspective

L. Jean Camp

Browsing the Web gives one the heady feeling of walking without footprints in cyberspace. Yet data surveillance can be both ubiquitous and transparent to the user. Can those who browse the Web protect their privacy? And does it matter if they cannot? I offer answers to these questions from the American legal tradition. The American legal tradition focuses on a right to privacy, rather than a need for data protection. To answer these questions I begin by delineating the differeces between privacy, security and anonymity. I then discuss what information is transferred during Web browsing. I describe some of the available technology for privacy protection, including public and private key cryptography and Web proxies. I then describe the American tradition of privacy in common, statutory and constitutional law. With the support of this tradition, I close by arguing that although privacy in Web browsing has no current legal protection in the United States, the right to privacy in the analog equivalents has been recognized in the American legal tradition.

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