Looking at this display from the Newseum, the thing that stood out most to me on the board was the person who wrote that they would sacrifice “some privacy.” Personally, this makes me wonder what part of privacy this person was referring to. Were they referring to texts, phone calls, emails, their location, or something else? Where is the line drawn? When does safety overrule privacy, and when does privacy once again become the priority?
It seems to me that there is a very fine line between what we are and are not willing to sacrifice for safety. For example, one person wrote that they wouldn’t want the government to have access to their location. Another person wrote that they would sacrifice “as much as necessary to feel safe.” It is difficult, if not impossible, to define an amount of privacy that everyone is willing give up for safety’s sake. Something that makes one person feel safer, such as mass surveillance of internet search histories, may cause someone else to feel less safe and uncomfortable. In cases like those, who do we choose? Either choice causes someone to feel unsafe. Which person’s safety is of a higher value?
Perhaps the answer is that there is no answer. Perhaps it is impossible to have everyone feel safe at the same time. Some will claim that mass surveillance and legislation like the Patriot Act make people safer. They help the government to catch terrorists and others who intend to inflict harm. However, these methods make some people feel less safe. If the government or anyone else was to abuse this power, or misuse this data, there could be serious repercussions. Is there a line that can clearly be defined; this is an acceptable invasion of privacy, but this is going too far? Until we can answer this, the debate of security vs. privacy will continue.