The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: Rights

The Importances of Both Stances

As a note-taker, I am a neutral person who simply wants to make sure that the most important aspects of the debate are discussed. With that being said, I have two questions. Has there been a period in history where something similar to this has happened and has gone very badly or extremely well? Exactly what boundaries would the government be allowed to overstep before it is seen as “citizens’ privacy is not always respected?”

I think the first one is very crucial to ask because everyone knows that you must learn from your mistakes. Another saying is that “nothing is new under the sun.” So if in the past, something similar has happened and the outcome was not favorable, it would be very smart to not have it happened again. And according to the second saying, it most likely has already happened, and if it stopped and is not currently happening, was it for the better?

The second question is important because boundaries must be set in place, but with the US being made of different people with differing opinions, these said boundaries would be very hard to establish. There are those who are very open with their personal lives, and does not mind if the government does a little snooping if it means that they are being protected. However, there are some people with secrets (whether good or bad) who just want to keep their secrets hidden. So exactly where exactly is the line drawn to prevent the government from merely occasionally invading citizens’ privacy to comletely abusing their power?

Privacy Rights

When discussing the argument that “I have nothing to hide so surveillance isn’t really an issue for me,” Chris Gilliard brought up an interesting point, stating plainly: that’s simply not how rights work.

I never really comprehended the fuss over privacy. Why is it a big deal for a big corporation or government to look at what we’re doing. If you have nothing to hide, who cares and why should it matter? Gilliard really helped broaden my perspective on the topic. I now understand the faultiness of that logic. For example, with the First Amendment, the United States’ Bill of Rights grants citizens freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition. Using the same argument people often use against privacy and applying it to something like speech, it becomes rather ridiculous. “I have nothing bad to say about the government, so I don’t have a problem with my speech and writing being restricted.”

Rights are the fundamental rules are humans are owed in life, and according to our societal values, privacy is one of these rights.

Experience Causes Little Change to Drew’s Beliefs

There was a part in the book where soon after Drew, Marcus’ dad, is upset about being pulled over for no reason and patted down, his anger eventually dissolved and he continued to argue with Marcus, supporting what Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was doing. I found this especially strange and interesting. You would think that after experiencing the invasion of privacy and violation of rights that Marcus had been trying to tell him about, he would be fully opposed to what DHS was doing to the citizens of San Francisco. However, if anything, it seemed have made him support DHS more. I believe that he reacted this way because he was trying to look on the bright side of things, as most people would when they are going through tough times or even when they are being oppressed. His train of thought seemed to have been “I made be seen as guilty everywhere I go, but if I know I’m innocent and I stay innocent, actual guilty people are being arrested through this process, so it is okay.” Only a few people in the believe seemed to have demonstrated the same type of attitude, but usually after people experience what it feels like to be oppressed, their entire attitude and perspective on a specific idea or belief changes if it opposes the shared perspective of the oppressed population. When this particular scene happened in the book, I actually read over it several times to make sure what I thought was happening actually happened. Drew Yallow’s opinion on DHS switched for only a short period of time before he adopted his initial beliefs again, and defended them even greater.

Surveillance protects our children



All American citizens are entitled to their privacy. It must be remembered, however, that any electronic privacy granted to citizens is also granted to who Singh calls the “Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse – drug dealers, organized crime, terrorists, and pedophiles”. Because of this, all citizens should be more than willing to give up a little privacy to protect their families, neighbors, friends, and all citizens.

CC image courtesy of Lunar New Year on Flickr

CC image courtesy of Lunar New Year on Flickr

Imagine you have a child. Imagine they were being targeted by an online pedophile. This pedophile is making disgusting comments to your child and trying to persuade them to meet.If you are like most people, you would probably contact the police or do something similar in an attempt to catch this person that is targeting your child. Now imagine that the police tell you that there is nothing they can do about it at the moment because they are required to protect the electronic privacy of citizens.

Many proponents of electronic privacy are worried about what the government is reading of theirs. This is just evidence of the geocentricism of Americans. As scandalous of a life you think you lead, the government really doesn’t care unless you are plotting something that endangers the country. By insisting on your privacy to keep your gossip or your secret online relationship hidden, you’re stopping the government from potentially preventing mass shootings or terrorist attacks or even child abductions. 

The Importance of Privacy

jeff_golden. Flickr. Creative Commons.

jeff_golden. Flickr. Creative Commons.

The government does not have the right to infringe upon the privacy and security of United State’s citizen. The proposed idea of the government being given ”wide latitude” of surveillance breaches these privacy barriers that are protected by the Constitution. The ability to keep information secure has decreased with the increased use of technology. A face-to-face conversation is the most secure method or exchanging information but is not practical with todays growing world. “The advent of digital technology, which makes monitoring so much easier” fuels the desire to protect your information (Singh 306). This decreased ability to protect your information has led to the creation of enciphering methods on the Internet. The creation of this type of security has aided in the protection of citizen’s rights. These are ways that citizens protect their right to privacy and the government should not be allowed access to their citizen’s private information. The government should be prevented from infringing upon the security of its citizens without reasonable cause and search warrants. Giving the government ”wide latitude” would allow citizen’s rights to be violated. It is the government’s job to respect the constitution and the wishes of their constituents. The citizen’s rights are supposed to be of the utmost importance to the government and the basis of the constitution.

We Don’t Know What We Have Until It’s Gone

Chapter 4 of Little Brother circles around the idea of a want for familiarity. After the main character, Marcus Yarrow, is taken hostage, he is stripped of his belongings and dignity. Marcus talks about wanting to be back with his friends and parents, as anyone would in this situation, but what intrigues me is how much we all take such familiarities for granted. As Marcus realizes he is getting onto a boat and leaving his homeland, he becomes sick to his stomach at the thought of never seeing his parents again. However, had Marcus been leaving to go on a vacation without his parents, he most likely wouldn’t have thought twice about parting with his parents. On a similar note, seeing a pizza carton’s familiar logo causes Marcus to be sad and nostalgic of his free life. Yet before taken hostage, the pizza logo was virtually meaningless. This chapter has made me realize that we take so many things for granted and don’t realize what we have until its gone. Marcus even stated that he missed his school, which he couldn’t have hated more in the first few chapters. Aside from parents and friends, we also don’t realize the freedoms we as American citizens have, and all take for granted. At the end of the chapter, Marcus is finally released and couldn’t be happier have his usual clothes back and hear the familiar sounds, which went unnoticed before this event, in his familiar city. Marcus now appreciates these feelings and items that used to be overlooked. 

The Priority of Privacy

In Little Brother, a novel written by Cory Doctorow, protagonist Marcus Yallow, a.k.a. “M1k3y,” battles against the prospect of universal surveillance by the very agency meant to protect him and his country. In his efforts to galvanize an army of young protesters against the radical Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I could not help but sympathize with his interpretation of our constitutional rights as they apply to privacy.

Heroes: M by Frederic Poirot

In a heated class discussion, Marcus argues that the liberties provided by the Bill of Rights and intended by revolutionary forefathers are absolute and unwavering in their applicability. Those siding with the DHS, however, justified the sacrifice of personal liberties in the name of national security. The passage and novel as a whole raises an interesting and relevant question in regards to privacy: In our modern times, is the tracking of our digital whereabouts justified by the assurance (or hopeful promise) of sound national security?

In my opinion, the answer is no. While digital tracking does increase the efficiency of certain services, such as optimizing a search engine or bombarding key demographics with relevant internet ads, it is counter-intuitive in the context of national security. Surely, universal surveillance seems like a logical solution – track everyone, find the culprit. As demonstrated by the “the paradox of the false positive,” however, universal surveillance proves inefficient by amounting to a surplus of unreliable conclusions and data. Of course, there do exist instances in which a narrow, more focused application of surveillance proves effective, but these instances are considerably covert and target highly suspicious individuals (or at least, that’s how the government today makes it seem). But even when ignoring practicality, the implications of surveillance oppose what we believe to be fundamental, inherent liberties stated in the Constitution, but true regardless of context. In saying so, I believe that our digital shadows should be just that, our digital shadows, for no one else to see.

Scale of Justcie

Where Do We Draw the Line

Throughout Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, I found myself torn as to who I should support. Several times I found myself questioning what I believed and what I would do. In chapter 13, however, I had no trouble siding with Marcus during his discussion in class about suspension of constitutional rights.

Scale of Justcie

When Mrs. Anderson brought up the hypothetical situation where a police officer went beyond what his search warrant allowed for, and found indisputable evidence to prove the person is guilty. This is a classic question of whether the law or justice is more important. She asks, “Should the bad guy go free?” Should he? No, but he must.

In the same way that the Miranda Rights prevent police from using evidence gained without the other party knowing his or her rights, a police officer cannot use evidence gained in an illegal search. No one would ever tell you that he deserves to go free, but because of how our system works, that is the way it must be. The day we start bending the rules is the day we can no longer trust the rules to be on our side.

The fact is that without rules we are a bunch of uncontrollable creatures who act selfishly whenever possible. Either we have rules or we do not, there is no in between. If rules are not absolute, then there is no way to enforce them with a straight face. Obviously there are times when certain rules must be suspended (state of emergency), but there are rules in place that explain how that works. The problem arises when a government suspends rules/rights that they have no right to suspend.

The Constitution is a living document, and I agree that changes have to be made to it in order for it to continue to function as intended. However, the the way the teacher describes it is not that. She seems to believe that you take the Constitution as guidelines rather than rules, which is just downright false. If you do not like what the Constitution says, you have to change it. You cannot just ignore it.

Picture Credits: Scale of Justice 2 New: Original by DTR, Derivative by Agradman

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