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Safety, Privacy and Security – Can we have it all?

·290 words·2 mins
Technology Watch

I watched another excellent Nova show today, called The Spy Factory. It is an excellent in-depth investigation of the failure of US Intelligence when it came to preventing the 9/11 attack. I won’t go further into details, as the entire show is available for online viewing right on the official PBS.org site, so I recommend you watch it. Once you finished (or perhaps you already seen it on TV), come back here for some more afterthoughts of mine.

Nova Logo Can we have it all? Must we compromise privacy in order to gain safety? Is the constant flow through giant NSA “filter” makes our personal communications insecure?

I vote for safety over privacy any day. Beyond the sheer benefit of safety, I believe that the “privacy” proponents are comparing Apples to Oranges when raising concerns about the classic “Big Brother” sense of the word. In many countries around the world, if you say “Stupid President”, or “Dump Oppressive Government”, and the government actually hears you – chances are that you are in trouble. But in USA, clearly the freedom of speech rules above censorship and oppression. Thus, as long as strong Freedom Of Speech laws in place, I say we should all be willing to compromise on our privacy a little.

What troubles me, from a professional angle, is the fact that we spend so much time and resources on Information Security. This is a valid and critical issue, with rampant rise of hackers and computer data & credit cards theft. In the process, we develop methods by which anyone can securely communicate, thus also avoiding our Big Brother, who is trying to watch over us. Or, Big Brother is successful in intercepting our “secure” communications, and likely, so are the hackers.