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Security v. Privacy- Not an Either Or Proposition

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [February 18, 2014]

Here are my thoughts on the tension between security and privacy.

We have become overly reliant on what are known as technical means for gathering intelligence. We scour the Earth with satellites, the airwaves with radio interceptors, and the World Wide Web with bad PowerPoint presentations (according to Snowden). There are certainly uses for all of those, well except for PowerPoint, that is never justified and possibly both cruel and unusual. But, we need to require that these tools be used in a focused manner and justified by law. Plus, didn't we actually spy on bad guys at one point? As much fun as it must be to pour through the personal emails of diplomats, someone needs to don a tuxedo, valet park an Aston Martin and do some secret agent stuff. I would attach my email address and invite our intelligence community to contact me, but I figure they already have it (just kidding, or am I?)...

There is nothing in the (fictional) international rule book that says you can only have security or privacy, not both. There is also nothing that says sacrificing one enables the other. But, we seem stuck in this endless back and forth where we are told they are mutually exclusive or categorically at odds. We are also forced to endure the endless quoting of Ben Franklin opining "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." This is usually delivered in a tone of moral superiority by those with little understanding of Liberty or Safety or the healthy tension between them, or more importantly why the word "essential" sits in front of Liberty.


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