The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: SvP

Privacy First

The government should absolutely not have "wide latitude" to use cryptography to surveil citizens. Throughout history, the role of United States government has been to protect the rights of its citizens. It is bound to this duty, especially when it comes to protecting citizens from itself. A majority of citizens are not engaged in illegal activities, and they have a right to have their privacy ensured. It is nothing to say that our thoughts are kept private from each other, what good is there in that when the government can, and possibly does, read everything you say? That isn't privacy. That is something that looks like privacy, but that has a back door for people who have too much access to possibly abused power.

Photo Credit: hyku via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: hyku via Compfight cc

In Singh Chapter 7, Singh mentions that a major concern of the government's is their continued access to wiretapping, which is supposedly essential to their catching criminals and terrorists, etc. This does not mean that they should have the ability to perform a wiretap on basically anyone, whether or not they have reason to believe someone has committed a crime. There is no way to no whether the people who would be given "wide latitude" to surveil citizens would only do so in the name of national security. Also, as Singh mentions, "in America in 1994 there were roughly a thousand court-sanctioned wiretaps, compared with a quarter of a million federal cases" (Singh Ch. 7). Wiretaps that are not essential to the majority of cases cannot be the basis on which Americans cede their right to privacy. Never in history has the government had such invasive means of gathering information, and they should not be given such capabilities now.

Privacy Rules

The government should not be given free reign to use electronic surveillance for "national security" when compromising the privacy of citizens. I understand that the government would compromise privacy in the best interests of the state; however, the efficiency of the system for trying to find criminals using electronic surveillance is lacking. Little Brother gives us an example at the inefficiencies of searching for criminals by brute force. If they want to find criminals who are attempting to use security systems like Zimmermann's "Pretty Good Privacy" (PGP), they need to know who and where to survey because only by making smart and educated decisions on who to check based on previous records will the government have a good chance at finding these criminals/terrorists.

Instead of prosecuting Zimmermann, the government should have used the benefits of PGP. By informing all normal, law-abiding citizens of PGP, they could have shown everyone how to use this security for their own electronic safety. If everybody had PGP to prevent others from reading their information, not only would the government have trouble seeing it, but also would internet criminals trying to steal their credit card/personal information. Some might think giving everyone the ability the secure their information would give criminals an easy way to avoid being caught by the government. However, even if the government didn't allow this type of security and heavily surveyed electronic usage, criminals and terrorists would still find new ways to stay under the radar and will still be able to commit crimes. The heavy electronic surveillance and a strict ban on types of security such as PGP would only give the criminals the ability to stay private. This is similar to the debate on the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms. Making guns and other arms illegal only take them away from law-abiding citizens while the criminals still get them illegally.

Allowing privacy for the individuals helps the average citizen because their basic rights are maintained while helping them keep private from hackers and criminals. Compromising this basic right only gives the criminals the ability to work without being under the governmental surveillance. To prevent criminal acts or terrorist attacks, other measures should be made instead of taking away the people's privacy.


Diego Torres Silvestre, 2005

Diego Torres Silvestre, 2005. Wikimedia, Creative commons.



Security Should Defend Citizens, Not Abuse Them

Photo Credit: 'Goed Zoekveld' by Bart van de Biezen. Flickr. Creative Commons.

Photo Credit: 'Goed Zoekveld' by Bart van de Biezen. Flickr. Creative Commons.

The goal of the US government’s security agencies ought to be to preserve a society that values the freedom of American citizens. If those rights must be sacrificed in the interest of security measures, then what have these measures truly accomplished? If the US government were given wide latitude to use electronic surveillance, even if this surveillance was only supposed to be used to find threats to national security, this power would likely be abused. Already, without laws giving permission to surveil citizens, the NSA can and has reached deep into the private lives of individual citizens. If these citizens were individuals planning a terror attack then these actions might seem more justified, but they were not. A recent Wired article about Edward Snowden mentions a document “that showed the NSA was spying on the pornography-viewing habits of political radicals… [and] that the agency could use these “personal vulnerabilities” to destroy the reputations of government critics who were not in fact accused of plotting terrorism” (Bamford, 2013.) This surveillance for political purposes has happened in the past, too: for example, the FBI used a wiretap on Martin Luther King in 1963 and passed the information it gathered on to the anti-civil-rights Senator James Eastland who used it in debates (Singh, 306.) This goes far beyond what is necessary in order to protect the country from those with criminal intentions, and laws expressly permitting the violation of citizens’ privacy would only make it easier for similar events to occur. Rather than defending America, such practices would violate the country’s fundamental values of freedom and democracy.

Privacy is the fundamental right of human

I think the privacy of individual is one of the most important and the most basic right of human. Government can not and also does not have the right to invade the privacy of individual. Every one has his or her own secret, other people should respect him or her. This, of cause, does not mean that the national security is not important. The National security is definitely very important. It protect individual from terrible things. However, this mind could not be controlled easily, which means the government could grabs the right from civilians by the same reason. Because such behavior is difficult to limit, common people might always lose their privacy without perception, like the PRISM.  In this event, if Snowden had not told the truth to the public, American people would have never known this kind of thing happening to them. What is more, surveillance is only a small part of national security, the government could try other methods to improve its ability to protect the national security, so the surveillance is not necessary. By the way, this kind of project could easily become a control to people rather than a protect of people. Thus, compared with national security, individual's privacy is much more important.

Photo Credit: 'We are legion'by Enrique Dans via flickr

Photo Credit: 'We are legion'by Enrique Dans via flickr

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