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The Lack of Privacy in America

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Large companies have an outstanding amount of data on its consumers, and there’s no legislation that limits how much data they can collect. They have too much personal information on users, it’s gotten to the point where the collection is a threat to public security. The freedom of citizens is quickly being taken away by the invasion of privacy. Citizens should have a say in their privacy. Privacy laws need to be made, because in the age of the internet, privacy is more important than ever.

One of the biggest companies known for collecting data is Google, which has billions of users around the world. Users can access and download an archive of their information which includes browser history, search history, Google mail, Google Maps search and location history, etc. Someone’s Google Maps information can possibly incriminate him or her self because it suggests their location at the time of the crime. This violates the 5th amendment, which is the right to not self incriminate. Soon, people could get convicted without a trial based on the fact that they were near the location of the crime. This information could also be used with the intention to frame. It could be used to blackmail someone, especially a political opponent.

Another company that collects data is Apple. Apple prioritizes keeping its users’ data secure and confidential. They even refused to make a backdoor for the FBI to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooters, saying “unlocking the backdoor would set a dangerous precedent.” If Apple gave the FBI a backdoor, the government would have taken advantage of this and then other countries would ask for it, creating a domino effect. Then, people would have no privacy with their smartphones.

Those against privacy laws argue that Americans have nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide. In an article titled “Edward Snowden’s Impassioned Argument For Why Privacy is a Right,” Snowden stated that “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.’ Privacy is embedded into individuality. When we lose privacy, we lose our freedoms.

There hasn’t been a specific U.S. concerning data collection or online privacy, except for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits websites aimed at children or general audiences from collecting information from kids without parental consent. The Obama administration attempted to put forward a Consumer Bill of Rights. However, “enamored by Silicon Valley, the administration let the industry craft its own rules and a draft was made three years after the proposal,” (O’Connor). Since then, data collection has remained unregulated and “policies continue to fall short of individual privacy expectations,” (O’Connor).

In contrast, the European Union has put forth multiple data protection laws. One notable law is the “General Data Protection Regulation” (2018), which “protects all personal data, regardless of who collects or how it is processed,” (O’Connor). The GDPR covers businesses with customers from the EU and those business must comply or face heavy fines for violation. There are eight rights under the GDPR: right to access personal data, right to rectification, right to erasure, right to restrict data processing, right to be notified, right to data portability, right to object, and the right to reject automated individual decision-making. However, in certain situations like criminal offenses or threats to public security, those rights are denied.

Ring, a smart doorbell that monitors homes and neighborhoods owned by Amazon has been subject to controversy concerning privacy. Ring provides homeowners live video surveillance of their home and detects motion. Recently, Ring has partnered with over 400 police forces, creating a network of surveillance. ‘The partnerships allow police to request the video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area… homeowners can decline and officers do not have live access,” (Harwell).

This may sound like these smart doorbells are a great utility to reduce crime, but the reality of it is that crime has been declining for years and these surveillance devices do little to reduce crime. People that fear for the safety of their neighborhood or city are compelled to purchase smart security systems and give up their privacy for security. Another problem with the Ring smart security system is that “users’ ability to report people as suspicious has the potential to contribute to racial profiling and heighten community distrust,” (Harwell).

The United States should adopt a similar policy to the GDPR because at this moment, our privacy isn’t being valued. People need to know their rights when it comes to privacy, and be able to keep their personal information safe. Companies need to be held accountable for how they handle the information of their customers. Boundaries, in terms of what information can be acquired and how it is used, need to be established.

Works Cited

  • Harwell, Drew. “Doorbell-Camera Firm Ring Has Partnered with 400 Police Forces, Extending Surveillance Concerns.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Aug. 2019,
  • “Reforming the U.S. Approach to Data Protection and Privacy.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations,
  • Schrodt, Paul. “Edward Snowden Just Made an Impassioned Argument for Why Privacy Is the Most Important Right.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 Sept. 2016,

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Privacy Issues In United States. (2022, December 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
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