Crime

"She's just another Hollywood whore, an immoral porn queen. She's beyond redemption," he muttered to himself as he paced back and forth outside her apartment building. He had been constantly walking around outside the building for hours now, harassing people passing on the streets with crazed questions. Suddenly, overcome with resolve, the man stomped back to the building and rang the bell. She had rejected him once, but never again. He had given her a chance, but she had turned him away from her life. How could she do this to him, her biggest fan? After letting go of the buzzer, Robert Bardo hid himself in the bushes by the door. This was the only choice he had left after such a rejection.

Twenty-one year old Rebecca Schaeffer, actress on the sitcom My Sister Sam, answered the door for the last time in her life. She had politely turned away a disturbing man earlier that day after explaining to him that she had to study her lines for her next show. However, when she answered the door this time, there was no one there.

Bardo saw his chance and acted on it. He burst from the shadowy confines of the bushes and pushed a gun into Schaeffer's chest, pulling the trigger after he had her in his grasp. The bullet barely missed the young actress's heart as she fell to the ground, bleeding from a mortal wound. As Bardo flew from the scene, he stashed the incriminating evidence into the bushes.

After interrogations performed by the LAPD, it was found that Bardo had been stalking Schaeffer for a very long time. However, this was not the usual case of a voyeur or a stranger trailing someone throughout their day. Bardo had traced Schaeffer through the use of the computer and its vast resources. With the use of computer databases, Bardo was able to find out where Schaeffer lived, what her telephone number was and who she called, what kind of vehicle she drove, and where she spent her money. It was as if Bardo could look through a window and clearly see all of Schaeffer's personal, intimate secrets (Rothfeder 13-14).

This is the perfect example of a modern crime, in which all of an individual's privacy and personal information have become little more than a commodity, easily accessible to anyone with very little hassle. In the highly modernized society in which everyone lives, people compromise their privacy in order to live comfortably. Do people really need credit cards, key cards, or check books? Of course not, but it makes things more pleasant for them in their everyday life. Because of these unnecessary whims of society, individuals have lost their right to secrecy, when in fact, their rights to privacy should have been a number one concern. In this brave, new world, people compromise their privacy by giving out their social security numbers too frequently, by not being careful when surfing the Internet, and by inadvertedly putting themselves onto blacklists.

The road to giving up privacy all begins with the social security number. "Most people would be astounded to know what's out there," states Carole Lane, the author of Naked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information On-line . "In a few hours, sitting at my computer, beginning with no more than your name and address, I can find out what you do for a living, the names and ages of your spouse and children, what kind of car you drive, the value of you house and how much taxes you pay on it." (Quittner 33) How is this possible? It is very easily accomplished, according to several professional Internet searchers. People are asked to give out their social security number for millions of reasons other than social security. Banks, phone companies, retail stores, phone marketers, and even barber shops ask for social security number. Each of these businesses or companies keep some kind of record correlated with someone's social security number, whether it be how much they owe on a mortgage to how many times a year they get a haircut. A major key in protecting people's privacy is for them to not give out their social security number unless they feel it is really necessary. It is easy to trace people because of their social security number, as the number leaves behind a sort of electronic trail through the vastness of Cyberspace.

Another privacy