Security Versus Privacy: Does Terrorism Change the Debate?

Topics: Liberalism, Individual rights, Terrorism Pages: 2 (362 words) Published: March 20, 2006
The events of September 11th have dramatically affected the way that Americans view their right to "privacy", and the level of government access to private information needed to protect all citizens from future terrorist attacks. Though the right to "individual privacy" is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, it does specifically state the rights of the government (Browne, May 2003). There are two different thoughts on the issue and they are divided along the lines of those who want to live in a secure environment and those who want to live in a free environment. A happy medium can exist between the two factions; however, there will never be a secure society that grants all individual liberties. Terrorist attacks have promulgated several initiatives to improve the U.S. government's ability to identify and track the movements of potential criminals that live within its borders. The fear that Americans have that they may experience another atrocious act of cowardice has forced them to evaluate whether some of our rights to "privacy" hinder their ability to protect themselves. Therefore, many citizens are more willing to give up certain freedoms when "terrorism" becomes part of the debate. As a result, millions of dollars have been spent since 2001 to launch surveillance satellites, improve eavesdropping technology, and create massive databases that gather personal information and create records on citizens in hopes of locating criminals before they strike. There are individuals that feel tapping phone lines, sharing personal information, and monitoring citizens has infringed on our right to privacy without guarantees that crime and terrorism will be prevented. Databases such as Carnivore and MATRIX have billions of personal records, but, even with a 1% error rate, do not possess the capability to produce accurate leads on potential terrorists that live within the country, and the potential for several innocent citizens' rights to be violated exists. Are...

Bibliography: Browne, H. (2003). Does the Constitution Contain a Right to Privacy? Retrieved
October 3, 2005, from
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