Safety or Privacy?

It happened again. Our privacy and freedom of rights are at stake. As per the Government imposed air security measures, there will be installation of full-body scanners at major U.S. airports. Public opinion is divided. Whether safety or privacy comes first is a question that many are asking now. To safeguard the nation is of utmost importance when the country is in war against the world’s terrorists, but trading in privacy for ensuring that safety is not desired at all. What Government is saying and doing is unclear when it proposed for body-scanners, add-ons to the total safety security package available to air travelers these days. No wonder distrust in Government is at its peak when double standards continue to define Washington’s actions.

Indeed, a false sense of security is looming large everywhere. Security experts explained that body scanners could not have rightly detected explosive device used in the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound plane.  However, Washington is not hesitant to push for a controversial security measure which pose tremendous threats to personal privacy and freedom of rights. History shows that surrendering our liberties out of fear and panic ends up restricting our freedoms. There is no guarantee body scanners will make us any extra safer if that is the goal of investing millions of dollars in these expensive machines. Moreover, no one is clear about where this money is coming from. At a time of recession, this kind of drastic and dramatic security measure is odd.

In the absence of a detailed plan (whether scanned photos are to be stored, how it will be stored, and for how long, etc.),  there is always the danger of misuse and abuse of images. During this sensitive moment, Government needs to enact procedures that pose least threat to our civil liberties and are also proven to be effective. At least that is what we hoped for when the new Administration came to power a year ago. We cannot repeat this error of breaching our freedom of rights. Safety cannot win over privacy and if it does it will be unconstitutional and violation of American values.

By: Reefa Mahboob

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