No Privacy, No Security

Privacy is often thought of as the innate human right to keep acts, thoughts, and material items from others or the general public. Privacy is thought of as an “innate human right”, but much like freedom, privacy is often sacrificed for the “greater good of society”. Questions around privacy remain largely unanswerable: Who deserves privacy? How much privacy is acceptable? Does ‘national security’ supersede privacy? 

In my opinion, national security (and the well-being of others) should only supersede privacy if clear evidence of a direct threat has been established or has been established previously. Although we live in a democratic society where we are afforded many freedoms, we too experience invasions of privacy that we have grown so accustomed to in our daily lives. Our luggage and body is searched prior to boarding an airplane. Our cars are searched during police encounters. In school, our personal belongings are eligible for search and seizure. In many instances, however, the invasion of privacy becomes necessary to prevent any future crimes. In this society, we allow these small invasions of privacy for the sake of security measures. Citizens can be comforted in the fact that everyone has to undergo the same searches, so the area they may be entering is safe. This is about the extent to which I feel safe surrendering my privacy. 

Anything without clear-cut evidence or precedent, I feel is wrong. This encompasses much of the privacy which we don’t “willfully” surrender. For example, phone tapping or extensive filming (through public cameras) are invasions of privacy which are unwarranted. With the previous examples, those were instances where someone could be concealing a crime they have committed or intend to commit. The search and seizure should only be executed if to prevent the repeating of historical events (such as the searching of luggage prior to boarding a plane) or if there is strong evidence pointing to a crime (such as searching a car during a traffic stop). The filming or phone tapping; however, is just monitoring citizens. One could argue that monitoring certain citizens could prevent the committing of future crimes. That could only be justified if authorities had evidence prior to surveillance of the person. To some degree, however, our government is monitoring our actions (regardless of the likelihood that we would commit a crime). The government cannot promise security by mass surveillance either. 

The only expected reward in surrendering privacy is security. If everyone’s privacy is equally invaded, then us (as citizens) can take comfort in our society being more ‘safe’. This is not the case for the United States. There are power dynamics as well as biases that cause some people to be monitored more heavily than others. This doesn’t increase our sense of security, rather it breeds mistrust between the citizens and the government. Essentially, we are surrendering our privacy for nothing in return.

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