In the wake of the recent US spy scandal and the possible participation of other countries do Americans and citizens of other nationalities feel safer now than prior to the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on targets in the United States? We know that high tech software allows spying on, or data mining of, various types of personal and supposedly private information. Your phone calls can be listened to, your internet browsing and searches can be viewed, even your emails can be monitored.
The biggest question is whether we will give away our privacy in order to avoid more of the horror that unfolded during that time almost twelve years ago. Of course, we would also need to decide if that approach is truly effective. Recently we have seen the Boston Marathon bombing and individual attacks on schools and other public places. It is my opinion that if we had instead read in the news that the authorities were, due to monitoring of web, email, and phone conversations, able to thwart the attacks planned by individuals, then maybe loss of a right to privacy could be justified. Since we have no privacy and no additional feeling of safety in our daily routines, maybe the billions of dollars spent on picking apart our cell, landline and email conversations could be more efficiently targeted elsewhere.
There are discussions that a more effective approach would be to seal a country’s borders by bringing this money back into our military budget, employing more of our country’s citizens, and focusing on stopping attacks from entering our country. The points made in arguments such as this are valid, although those who argue for prevention also have valid points that it is easier to stop a problem before it has been fully incubated into a valid plan. Another argument against the “seal the border” approach involves the homegrown terrorist attacks such as those at Newtown and in a Colorado movie theater.
Most citizens nationwide know how to purchase a disposable cell phone and change the number at will. Many know about using a proxy server to ensure privacy while browsing the web. Some even know and subscribe to software that allows encryption of email communications. Since so many law abiding people use these privacy practices, imagine the number of criminals and terrorists who utilize these cloaking tactics – well known and even less popular but more powerful. Since the availability of this hardware and software is so wide and well known, I believe our tax dollars can be targeted in more effective areas. Tweet your own thoughts on the matter and use the #webfreedom hashtag.