Privacy vs Security?

When asked about the recommendation for the sitting president, Professor Stone (2013) pointed out that a re-evaluation of classification of credential system and cautious trade-off between privacy and security would be necessary. Here comes the question, how to do this trade off? Does equilibrium in reality exist?

According to the Reuters(2016), FBI paid under 1 million to unlock the iPhone of a shooting crime suspects after Apple’s refusal to cooperate. Obviously, this suggests the government values the security a lot. Especially put in this background with the empowering of terrorism and with the disasters happened in Brussels and Paris; the government has strong incentive to further prioritize the security factor. Also, if the government can’t resist the temptation of a fuller and stronger surveillance system, it could cross the boundary as suggested by George Orwell’s work. While on the other hand, Jake Williams (2016), CEO of Rendition Infosec, also expressed his concern that once a precedent is made, the deliberately vulnerable made for government investigation would be dangerous to every user’s privacy. Indeed, from the prospective of IT industry seeking monetary profit, once the precedent is made, the costumer’s trust in the company would dramatically fail and thus leading to huge economical loss. In spite of the assumption that people are generally against surveillance, statistics actually shows that the majority of people understand and accept that their personal information, like facial image, credit card transaction and banking account state are being monitored (Stong-Michas. 2003)

Nowadays, instead of collecting trivial data, the government tends to collect Meta data. It is believed that the data about the data, like when and where did a phone call happened instead of the actual content of the call, is less exposure for object under surveillance but even more effective in dealing with enormous size of big data. However, after the Supreme Court changed their opinions on mass surveillance, the constitutional legal foundation has been shifting and, with the development of technology, new techniques extracting useful information to safeguard national security will be invented and its effects remains uncertain, the direction toward which the legal system is shifting still depends.

Is the interest of the government and the general public always contradicts and conflicts with each other? Maybe it’s high time representatives from both sides sat down and worked out a more detailed system of laws and regulations to clarify the extent to which the government could use its power to secure the nation against crime without abusing it. This legislation process should be media transparent and the press could act as the medium for the government officials and the public to communicate with each other, and more essentially, for restraining the power of either side to be dominant. After all, the aim of both the administration and an ordinary citizen are the same: a better future for their country. Government officials, elected representatives with proper intelligence background and expertise and the media industry should negotiate and act together to give out a detailed and balanced system of solution to draw the boundary of power without hurting the peace and future peacekeeping.


Democracy now. (2013). Is Edward Snowden a Hero? A Debate with Journalist Chris Hedges & Law Scholar Geoffrey Stone. Retrieved from

Reuters. (2016. 28. April). FBI paid under $1 million to unlock San Bernardino iPhone: sources. Retrieved from

Wired. The Apple-FBI Fight Isn’t About Privacy vs. Security. Don’t Be Misled.

Stong-Michas.J.L. (2003). The Great Debate: Security vs. Privacy. Retrieved from

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