Opinion

Is privacy a right?

2018-09-06 15:26 #0 by: Niklas

Government representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia recently met to discuss domestic security issues. Afterwards they released a statement saying, among other things, that:

”It is an established principle that appropriate government authorities should be able to seek access to otherwise private information when a court or independent authority has authorized such access based on established legal standards. The same principles have long permitted government authorities to search homes, vehicles, and personal effects with valid legal authority."

In short, they want to be able to force companies to provide government back doors to for instance chat services and social networks. The reason is that they want to get access to information of criminals.

What do you think? Should anyone, you and criminals, be able to have private conversations knowing that no one can eavesdrop? Or should governments always have a right and a way to access any information if it can help them catch more criminals?

» Privacy not absolute: US among consortium of nations calling for encryption back doors

(Photo by JoelValve at Unsplash)

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2018-09-14 09:44 #1 by: Evelina

I think governments should have the right to have access to private conversations if there is a justified reason. For example, the police cannot enter your home until they have a warrant. 

But, on the other hand, a part of me has to disagree. This is not because I want to defend criminal activity, it is just that what the government defines as criminal activity can be hard to distinguish when it comes to whistleblowers. Right now, it is a huge problem in the US that we have whistleblowers who have outed to the public governmental activities that are unjust. These whistleblowers are getting charged with crimes and being thrown in jail. If the government is able to track conversations (and they do) that whistleblowers have said, or are going to say, it can be used against them when they are going to court (which, in fact, has already happened as in the case of Chelsea Manning). 

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2018-09-14 10:31 #2 by: Niklas

Justified reason. Who should decide what that is? And what if they hide “justified reason” behind ”suspected threat of terror”, then no one can find out what the real reason is. Is that okay?

And is it worth the risk of exposing all citizens private data to have a government backdoor that hackers can exploit?

Who should be responsible for auditing the governments use of ”justified reasons”?

Do you trust the government not to abuse a system like that?

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2018-09-14 10:37 #3 by: Evelina

I do not trust the government 😲😂 hope they don’t use this against me, lol.

I feel like, as of now, my answer is no the government shouldn’t have access through back doors. But I hope that can change if we can find a way to protect citizens from potential privacy infringement, while also catching criminal activity, such as abusers of child pornography, sex traffickers, terrorists, etc.

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2018-09-14 10:41 #4 by: Evelina

It goes back to the grand moral theories of Bentham and Kant, do you sacrifice individual privacy for the greater ‘good’ of society or do you hold onto the principal that privacy is a human right.

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2018-09-14 12:00 #5 by: Niklas

So far I think that privacy trumps greater good. Freedom is more important than most other things.

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2018-09-14 12:11 #6 by: Evelina

Privacy was one of the issues my bachelor's thesis was concerned with. I remember reading articles (irrelevant to my paper but I still found them interesting) about the notion of privacy being perceived as a human right. The articles discussed how privacy as a human right has only been conceived as so in contemporary years. Privacy was never something individuals had back in the day when everyone lived in small villages. In those villages, everyone knew everything about each other because the town was so small and everyone gossiped. I think this is really interesting, that today most people might say that privacy is a right, and yet, we are so willing to share our data with corporations on a daily, if not hourly, basis. 

Why do you feel privacy is linked to freedom? Not that I disagree, I am just curious. 

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