National Security vs Privacy: Which is more important?


Allison Ramirez

Technology plays a critical role in facilitating terrorism plans.

Damian Trujillo, Reporter

When it comes to the issue of privacy, I believe that the safety of the nation is more important than the privacy of the people. If necessary, the US government should be able to access our devices and our digital information in order to protect the nation. 

“As ‘securing general welfare’ is actually written in the Constitution, whereas ‘privacy’ is only defended in amendments, national security should be prioritized over any concerns for personal privacy,” Talia Perez of The Perspective said. 

The best example of this kind of protection would be the US Patriot Act, enacted after the attacks of 9/11. This allowed the FBI to physically search or secretly wiretap American citizens without probable cause to obtain evidence of a crime. This is especially essential in the modern age of technology, when a terror attack could happen in either the physical or digital world.

“The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology,” George W Bush said in an address to the White House in 2002.

Even in 2002, it was understood that technology would come to a point where it would become a potentially dangerous place to be in. And today, that is true. With potential threats entering our country with the help of technology, giving up some of our privacy is a small sacrifice for helping to prevent these kinds of infractions.

The physical privacy of the people is protected by the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. There are legal channels in place to protect citizens from these kinds of searches, such as search and arrest warrants. However, no such channels exist in the digital world, and everybody is surveyed without reasonable cause or suspicion.

“Information gathered for legitimate purposes may be misused by members of the government,” Sumeet Santani, data engineer, says.

There will always be a public record, a digital footprint, of any and every user of the internet, and because it is public record, anybody could access a user’s personal information, including the government and businesses. Because of this transparency, this leaves people more susceptible to digital crimes, such as identity theft and credit card fraud.

Although I believe that the privacy of the people is important, the safety and security of the nation is more important. Ultimately, there should be legal protection against unauthorized monitoring and data collection, however there will always be a need for cyber surveillance from the government.