The Price Of Security
Is it worth our civil liberties?
On December 2nd, 2015, a mass terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California sparked national outrage. Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple, opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center, killing fourteen people and injuring twenty-two. Simply looking at one of the terrorist’s phones could help answer some crucial questions.
Hours after a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI and unlock Farook’s iPhone by building a back door, the technology company’s CEO announced that he would refuse the government’s “unprecedented demands.”
In a nutshell, back doors are software designed to decrypt phones.
In building a back door to the iPhone, however, many other people–including terrorists–could access that back door.
This case has exploded with controversy, causing an important debate. The Justice Department is accusing Apple of putting their “brand marketing” ahead of the safety of the law.
“How can anyone back down?” Says Mike McNersey, a former cybersecurity adviser to the Secretary of Defense. “You can’t solve this case when it’s the Director of the FBI vs. the CEO of Apple.”
Across the Web, terrorist and criminal groups have used the Internet for activities such as organizing criminal activity, recruiting new members, and spreading propaganda.
In most parts of the world, including other democratic nations, the communications department is mostly government owned or operated.
So why is this debate so heated? Many argue that government surveillance should be banned because it is taking away civil liberties, and some argue that it shouldn’t be banned because it’s keeping our nation safe.
Edward Snowden was a former NSA (National Security Agency) member. In 2013, Snowden leaked government files, which revealed to U.S citizens that they were being surveyed by the government. Some people thought this was infringing on their civil liberties.
Others, however, thought that this information was important for the security of the country, and to prevent future attacks.
The U.S. has been in a major war with ISIS, a terrorist group that has used social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to recruit members and organize crime.
Admittedly, government surveillance could make it harder to have private conversations.
“[It] makes it impossible to have conversations via one of the most powerful and effective platforms in human history,” says S.E. Smith, author of the Daily Dot article, “How Facebook and Twitter Could Become the New Faces of Surveillance”.
However, government surveillance has prevented many terrorist attacks from happening and helped collect strategies to stop future attacks.
Michael Shelden, author of Orwell: The Authorized Biography, said “[I] could see that war and defeating an enemy could be used as a reason for increasing political surveillance.”
After the Paris attacks on November 13th, 2015, investigators were able to track down the rest of the terrorists due to a phone that was left behind by one of the criminals.
“There will come a day when it will matter a great deal to the lives of people . . . that we will be able to gain access [to such devices],” says James Comey, Director of the FBI.
Even though surveillance could make it harder to have private conversations, it helps catch terrorists, collects strategies to stop terrorist organizations, and in the long run, saves lives.
The December 2nd FBI vs. Apple controversy sparked major debate, causing the public to question whether government surveillance is taking away civil liberties.
Even though there is no easy solution, the war against ISIS, the San Bernardino shooting, the November 13th Paris attacks, and many more tragic events have shown Americans that it’s worth giving up a small amount of privacy to keep the nation safe