Personal Privacy vs National Security
There are always two sides to a story. And like any, cryptography has its share of laurels as well as pitfalls. On one hand, communication has never felt so safe. It provides the right combination of security and privacy whether we're having a conversation with a friend, or making crucial business transactions online or just surfing the internet! Compromising on either aspect has become unnecessary.
But on the other hand, this level of safety is provided to all without discrimination. And we know what that means- terrorists and conmen are provided with a more secure means of communication, thus working to their advantage more than ever before.
This results in the battle of personal privacy versus national security and everybody agrees that both aspects are incredibly essential. At the same time, the complete existence of one rules out the existence of the other. This suggests the need for a line to be drawn. But how far the line should encroach into either territory is debatable. It is a tightrope of sorts that the government has to walk on because it's a question of infringing on basic civil rights.
According to laws passed by many governments after the recent upraise of terrorist actives, they have the right to eavesdrop on phone conversations and monitor online communication of suspected parties. This assures us that teasing a friend about bombing his state or searching the net for weapons of mass destruction won't really get you into trouble, contrary to belief. Most of the internet is treated as white noise. It is always said that it is better to be safe than sorry, though.
Under circumstances of suspicion, the government has the right to do everything from eavesdropping on private conversations, to accessing banking and medical records, to monitoring any online business transactions. This can be done without providing substantial evidence to the higher authorities as in this current day of age where everything happens in a matter of minutes, criminals move fast and usually leave trails only to mislead the authorities! So, by the time the Government tries to verify the evidence, the criminals may have exchanged several locations, telephones and maybe even identities!
At the same time, sensitive information accessed during one of these searches may exchange hands at the surveillance area, and no one knows what may happen to this information in the future. And even looking at it from the point of view of the investigators, they now have so much data, that is becomes harder to segregate the real threats from the fake ones. But as they say, individual welfare is tied to community welfare, so the right balance has to be struck. Soon.
- The new antiterrorism law steps up electronic surveillance of the Internet.
- Privacy vs. Security in the Aftermath of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks | By Bharath Krishnamurthy, Research Assistant