Month: October 2019

Writing 05: Government Surveillance

After watching Snowden for the first project, I have really been considering this tradeoff between privacy and security. One of my favorite quotes from the film was from Snowden’s girlfriend who claimed that the government was designed to always be questioned. I don’t necessarily think this means worrying about Big Brother. However, it is essential for Americans to be aware of the power the government has over us and ask these important questions we have discussed in class and those that appear in the news. The million dollar question here is what the fine line is between privacy and security. I validate both arguments. I would rather the government have every ounce of my data in order to prevent a terrorist attack. However, I do not support efforts to manipulate user data to sabotage them, for example the devient application of ICE to find illegal immigrants. Though I don’t know the fine line between privacy and security, I do not believe the government needs to know every detail about every person to stop malicious crime. Given the power of technology, there should be other ways to detect these warning flags instead of brute force swallowing every individual’s data. On a personal level, I think it is dramatic to say that there is no freedom with government surveillance. I understand the extreme depicted in the novel the Circle where individuals are being tracked all the time an are never disconnected. I think the only time that mass data tracking breeches freedom is when the data is maliciously used against the users. For example, if later in the future tracking someone’s browser preferences without their consent affected their ability to get a job, run for office, or things like that. I also think there are times where an individual has a right to keep their personal views and preferences private. This was a really important caveat we discussed in class with the example of Mayor Pete not disclosing his sexuality.

Though the US leads the world in many fields, we are lagging far behind most other european countries regarding privacy and security. During my semester abroad in Ireland, I extensively studied the differences in the EU and US approaches to privacy. The EU has established the GDPR(General Data Protection Regulation) with the sole purpose of regulating tech companies. Germany provides a clear example in giving users the option of whether they want their homes to be placed on Google Maps, putting the user first. The US needs to step up and follow our EU counterparts in efforts to protect user data and privacy. In addition to following and creating policy regarding regulating tech giants, software engineers must be trained to protect user data. This need faces a struggle in the lack of talent and interest  in the cyber-security space. Those that take advantage of user data through breeches of firewalls are advanced programmers. We need to train our own programmers to keep up with these malicious programmers in effect to protect vulnerable industries such as health care.