Privacy vs. Security?

By Wiha Powell

securityThere is still a long-standing debate about how much privacy the American people should be deprived in the name of national security. Since September 11, the government has been slowly stripping away our privacy rights in the name of national security. How?  By searching and compiling numerous amounts of personal data, which have affected the privacy of millions.

Recent news reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been eavesdropping on millions of Americans telephone calls for suspicious activities. This violation shows that the government has grown complacent in protecting our individual privacy rights. Even though we live in a digital world where most of our whereabouts are posted on social media sites, this does not give the government the go-ahead to invade our privacy. Especially since the data the NSA collected was as not given voluntarily. The American people find this tactic threatening. It is robbing us of the little privacy we have left.

One would think that this recent violation by the NSA would emphasize the American people’s fear of terrorism trumping concerns terrorismabout sacrificing their own privacy. If this is true, it would mean that the American people have grown accustomed to the idea of sacrificing privacy in the interest of staying safe from terrorism.

As Benjamin Franklin stated, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Therefore, if the American people gave up their privacy for security, then more than likely they will end up with neither privacy nor security.

Currently, national security and social media have overshadowed our sense of privacy. Still, the American people are not thrilled to give up the little remaining civil liberties in the name of national security. A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 32 percent of people believed that the government’s anti-terrorism policies have gone too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties. Later in a 2011 poll, the Pew found that 54 percent think it is not necessary to give up civil liberties in order to curb terrorism.

Instead of collecting personal data on millions of American, the government needs to focus on actual threats. The American people are being told that they need to give up civil liberties for security, but what the government fails to reveal is that the American people can have it both ways.

This requires the government to come up with incentives that will improve the nation’s overall security rather than decreasing its cost. It also requires the government to design security into programs and systems from the beginning instead of tacking on to the end. These measures would give the American people the security they need while preserving civil liberties.

In other words, giving up privacy does not necessarily result in greater security and greater security does not require the loss of privacy. It is time we as a nation move beyond the false security vs. privacy meme and focus on implementing laws that take into account privacy rights as well as the indisputable need to fight terrorism.


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