Technology changed the lives of almost everyone in the world. Thanks to the advent of Internet and related technologies, we have better means to communicate, work and enjoy entertainment. As a result, we have a better standard of living. However, there is a downside. Technology have also been used to commit crimes. Consequently, the government has been employing the same technology to catch the bad guys. Which brings us to the “dilemma of the Internet age”. What is more important security or privacy? There are two main arguments for each of the rights.
On security side, supporters argue that the most important responsibility of the government is to “secure the general welfare of its citizens”. Therefore, governments have the right to take advantage of technology advents to collect massive amounts of information on its citizens in order to detect and prevent criminal acts such as terrorism, human trafficking and child exploitation. So far, the U.S. has been spearheading these endeavors.
On privacy side, supporters argue that the right to privacy is fundamental as it is reflected in the Amendment 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 4 prohibits “unreasonable search and seizure”, meaning that massive collection of information by the government tarnishes the fundamental principles embedded in the fabric of the U.S. democracy.
I am personally leaning more towards security in this debate. However, in my opinion, there should be a balance between these two rights. This balance could be achieved in numerous ways. For instance, a separate agency could be created that is mandated by the court, appointed by the executive branch, and supervised by watchdog civil groups that could perform limited large scale queries of information for the purpose of identifying and preventing specific crimes, such as terrorism, child exploitation and human trafficking.