Balancing Privacy and Security

In the wake of the most recent terrorist bombing in Boston, it is easy to understand why some people would be willing to sacrifice a few liberties to the government in favor of more security.

A common train of thought is that an honest person does not have anything to hide, so the intrusion into our private lives is really a minor thing.

In a Utopian society, I would tend to agree with that sentiment, but we live somewhere else.

Privacy vs. Security

When it comes right down to it, think about what makes up our government. There are the buildings, the laws, and even the history, but in essence, our government is a collection of people.

For the most part, they are our friends and neighbors dedicated to servicing our needs and keeping our great country running. When you have a group of people, you can expect most of them to be upstanding citizens, but it would be naive to think that none of them would be unscrupulous. When the dishonest ones are given access to power, especially intruding into our lives, the results can be catastrophic.

Recently, a New York police officer was arrested for his part of hacking into his ex-girlfriends e-mail and abusing his access to police data.

While I hope he is proven innocent and that there has been some kind of misunderstanding, Edwin Vargas (a government representative), has been charged with paying a hacking firm to break into approximately 40 e-mail accounts (21 have been reported to be from fellow officers).

Also, he is accused of illegally accessing the National Crime Information Center database, which he is allowed to access because of his status as a police officer. There are rules governing the use of this database, and Mr. Vargas allegedly ignored them.

According to published reports, this activity had been going on between 2010-2012.

This kind of behavior is neither unique to Mr. Vargas nor surprising when you consider that some people just have a tendency to abuse power when they obtain it. With a quick search on the Internet, you can find thousands of cases where government officials abused their offices.

Ben Franklin got it right in 1775 when he said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

We need to remember that the freedoms we give up to the “government” are being put into the hands of real people who may not have our best interests at heart.