Privacy Versus Security: Personal Data and Internet Use, Is Your Privacy Being Eroded?

Topics: Surveillance, Internet, Privacy Pages: 7 (2458 words) Published: February 8, 2011
Privacy versus Security: Personal Data & Internet Use
There are many Americans who are perplexed by the very topic of Internet Privacy as well as the security of their personal data. While the topics, privacy and security are clearly defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as two different things, they possess the ability to work together while one does not encroach upon the other. While these are two different topics, there are some that make the mistake of using these terms interchangeably. There is a way to maintain not being observed while remaining secure. Some fear that the mere use of the Internet is funneling their information to some huge database recording personal activity along with personal information. Others are conspiracy theorists as well and believe that internet use is coerced and a plan to track movement and habits. There are many 9/11 conspiracy theories including that the signals to the airplanes was hacked by the government so that the planes and their captains would be rendered helpless and not be able to avoid the eminent crashes. There are also those who view the need for privacy regarding personal data and security as able to coexist without cancelling each other out. And on the other side of the coin, there are some (some technology professionals included) who feel that national security trumps the need and right of personal privacy when surfing the web. The nature of the privacy versus security issue is that many, even those in decision-making positions are not sure of the actual difference between security and privacy. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines privacy as “the quality or state of being apart from company or observation: seclusion b: freedom from unauthorized intrusion privacy>, a place of seclusion, and also secrecy b: a private matter” (Merriam-Webster). Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary also defines security as the following: “1 the quality or state of being secure: as a: freedom from danger: safety b: freedom from fear or anxiety” (Merriam-Webster). While there are many differing opinions on this topic, there is a growing contention of the belief that one does not have to be sacrificed for the other, that personal data and Internet privacy can be maintained while national security is kept secure. Many people do not wish to give up their privacy to ensure security and will fight for that very right. President Thomas Jefferson is often quoted as saying “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” (Jefferson). In that same vein, many technology professionals believe the same as there are those on the other side of the coin, believing that if you have nothing to hide there should not be a problem. This is a rather dangerous theory due to the fact that there can be various interpretations of “what to hide”. If you are a terrorist certainly you don’t want to be tracked and want your privacy so that you can breach national security. On the other side of the coin, what if you are simply researching information regarding terrorism for a research paper or it could be your job to research ways in which the terrorists are trying to stay ahead of the curve so as to remain undetected. Would this flag you unfairly and create a situation where your privacy has been breached when you had no malicious intent? Or would you simply be glad that the government was vigilant in pursuing security? There can be several different views on this topic. The scenario above brings to mind an episode of the television program “Good Times” starring Esther Rolle among its many stars. The episode focuses on the fact that the youngest son (Michael) has been researching information for a comparative paper involving the differences between a democracy and that of a communist dictatorship. While doing his research he checked a book on Cuba and the application of its government. With the government...
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