Critical question: should the government be 100% transparent? What is the fine line between privacy and our national security?

Ans:

I disagree that the government has to be completely transparent. Undoubtedly, transparency of government can bring about various advantages, including the promotion of accountability, empowering the public with information, construction of a trustable and professional image of the government etc. However, if everything done by the government has to reveal to the general public, certain problems may arise. For example, if sensitive information like military and national security plan are open to public, they can then also be assessed and used by other countries, which may cause threats to the safety of one country. Also, total transparency may result in ineffective government operation as every detail about a government policy, legislation or decision will be discussed by the public and the consensus will be hard to reach due to the need to balance the interest of every parties, which lead to delay of final government decision. The Hong Kong’s high speed rail link is one of the examples, in which over-budget is resulted due to inflation caused by overwhelming public discussion before the start of projects. Besides, if everything part of the government is transparent, too much information will be bombarded the citizens and it is likely that the public may focus on matters that are not important (comparatively) either by autonomy or due to manipulation by intended parties purposefully. Threats may be resulted towards fairness, effectiveness, maintenance of interest balancing of shareholders and so on.

With terrorist groups like ISIS skilfully utilising the web, the fine line between privacy and national security remains controversial. However, it is to be reminded that the aim of supervision of personal information is just about protecting general public from domestic or foreign threats but never about making money from it. In fact, it is believed that the best way to resolve the conflicts etween privacy and national security is collaboration, ie. more cooperation between private and public sectors to fulfil both the corporate policies m and government regulations. Also, other possible ways to lower public concerns towards the matter include companies being more transparent about the collection and usage of data, the legislation of laws by government to protect personal information (to build trust to government in the sense that it will do no harm but only protect the citizens.

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