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Privacy vs. Security — What do you choose?

August 28, 2013 Published by Rajesh Goel

snowdenBelow is an excerpt from the Keynote presentation I delivered at GBATA 2013 in Helsinki, Finland. It is based upon my

“A Global Overview of Trends in Personal, Corporate and Government Surveillance” presentation.

Those who ask you to choose SECURITY OR PRIVACY and those who VOTE on SECURITY OR PRIVACY are making false choices. That’s like asking AIR OR WATER — which do you choose? You need BOTH to live.

Maslow placed SAFETY (of which security is a subset) as 2nd only to food, water, sex and sleep. As humans we CRAVE safety.

As individuals and societies, BEFORE we answer the question “SECURITY OR PRIVACY”, we first have to ask “SECURITY FROM WHOM and WHAT?” and “PRIVACY FROM WHOM AND FOR WHO”?

Until 1215, every Prince, King, Emperor and Conqueror thought he had divine right and was either a god or a manifestation of god. The MAGNA CARTA, for the 1st time in recorded human history, tripped Kings and Emperors of their divine right. WHY? Because the nobility had enough of the incompetencies and cruelties of the ruling monarch. In 1628, Sir Edward Coke established in English Common Law that “A man’s home is his castle” In 1791, The US Bill of Rights gave us the 4th amendment “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Each of these articles gave us, the citizens, the commoners, rights that were hardfought by a small-band of revolutionaries.

Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Adams and countless others bled so that the masses could watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” today.

Today, every techno-geek with classified access, every sysadmin, every spymaster and bureaucrat in the information acquisition, analysis and marketing machine presumes that he/she is god.

The internet has become a tool of the despots – and EVERY country and EVERY corporation is becoming THE STASI.

During the cold war, the US & the west demonized the USSR and the communists for denying their subjects/citizens property rights; freedom of speech; freedom of thought; freedom of religion.

Today, US, UK, AU, NZ, CHINA, Russia, India, everyone nation spies on it’s citizens. They all do it in the name of SECURITY and protecting the citizenry from terrorists. I don’t recall the US constitution or ANY other government’s charter that required it to guarantee it’s citizens 100% safety or 100% security. Defense of the common good – yes. Decent infrastructure – yes.

Freedom from crime and terrorism is possible…but only if you live in a jail cell.

Privacy of thought is a basic HUMAN right.

We prized ourselves in the west for fighting for the dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn & Sakharov. We even gave some of them Nobel peace prizes and visas to the West. Today, the US government (and others around the world) jail more dissidents, whistleblowers and freedom fighters than ever before. And corporations such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Adobe, SONY, Disney, etc. deny us basic property rights by “licensing” software and media to us.

Today, every elected politician, president, senator, prime minister and king, sees honest dissent as subversive.

Before you answer the question “SECURITY OR PRIVACY”, ask yourself the question – from whom; for who and for how long.

When Vladimir Putin praises PRISM and the NSA, then I think we have a problem. When Steve Wozniak points out the similarities between our lack of rights in cloud and the communists, I think we have a problem.

In every generation, a new King John; a new Khruschev and a new Solzhenitsyn is born. It’s OUR job as citizens to DEFEND the rights given to us by our respective constitutions and DEMAND that they be conferred on our WEAKEST citizens, not just the strongest or the wealthiest.

Feel free to have a reasonable (or unreasonable, as long as good beer or bourbon are involved) debate with me at ASIS59 in Chicago or wherever you catch me next – Hague, Helsinki, Washington DC, Chicago, Curacao, New Zealand – I will be bringing my opinions and research to a conference near you ?

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