#Compliance: Online privacy debate prompts closer look at surveillance laws

The online privacy debate continues in light of the PRISM controversy, prompting a closer look at worldwide surveillance laws and Internet habits.

Social media is a great tool for reaching out to and connecting with like-minded professionals in the compliance space. However, between the speed of business and healthy doses of incoming work, it's tough to babysit a Facebook profile or a Google Plus stream, and you always feel like you miss the best tweets. We get that. That's why we're mining our list of governance, risk and compliance literati for their nuggets of insight, wisdom and the occasional chuckle.

In a trend sparked by the Edward Snowden/National Security Agency controversy, the online privacy debate has been a hot topic this summer. Snowden, a former government contractor, leaked documents in June that the NSA collected phone records as part of anti-terror efforts, and revealed another NSA program, called PRISM, that forces major Internet firms to turn over communications. The revelations regarding how readily available citizens' information is to law enforcement officials has led to a re-examination of surveillance laws -- and even Internet habits -- all over the globe.

On the state level, online privacy rights have been at the heart of recent cases from coast to coast. California privacy rights groups have filed a lawsuit over law enforcement's use of license plate scanners, while the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled earlier this week that police need warrants to get information on a crime suspect's cell phone location. The moves led some to take to social media to express their opinions:

It's not just the U.S. that is taking a closer look at online privacy, either. Revelations surrounding the PRISM program have had a ripple effect globally. The spotlight on how much personal information is readily available to law enforcement and other officials has led to a re-examination of surveillance laws all over the world, including in the United Kingdom:

There have even been reports that people are altering their online habits in light of the revelations regarding the NSA's PRISM program. Some tech companies are getting into the act, developing new tools designed to help consumers protect their online privacy:

But despite this renewed interest in online privacy, the twitterati remained skeptical that any type of sea change will occur to protect personal information:

And of course, some could not resist comparing the online privacy debate with the fuss over the most famous person born this week:

What do you think? Is the increased focus on online privacy protection just lip service, or will it result in actual change in how we protect personal information? Voice your opinions in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Ben Cole, site editor. For more regulatory compliance news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ITCompliance.

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