Privacy vs. Security
The world is currently in a state of war and by war,I do not necessarily mean the bombs and bullets kind of war…there’s another war.Yes,it does include terrorists and criminals from around the world and yes,almost everyone is at the danger of an attack.The war that I am talking about here is the cyber war.Terrorists and criminals do know the potential of the Internet and how it can be used to blow apart the defenses of a country or seriously affect its economy.They use the Internet to coordinate their activities in different countries.They use cellphones to orchestrate each and every attack.It might be possible for them to access the defence data of a country or to intercept confidential and important-and-very-confidential e-mails of government officials.
The attacks and blasts in Delhi,Ahmadabad,Bangalore,Jaipur,Varanasi,Faizabad and Lucknow were all co-ordinated using the net,The terrorists used a technique known as wardriving(1) to hack into a wireless network and used that to send the emails just before the blasts.But,terrorism is just one example.Crackers(2) have been around for a long period of time.They use the various hacking techniques to break into networks or computers to steal the private data of an individual or an organization.This data is later sold to others for money or used to blackmail people.These hacking techniques are also used by spies of countries.So,is there any possible way to stop these attacks?Yes there is.
Actually,there is no one way to complete security and there is no such thing as complete security,all that there is is to make it really expensive,time consuming and complicated to break in.So tough that even though it is possible,the efforts requires would not be worth it.But then,to what extent should this go on?The terrorists have a huge supply of money and they can spend it if they want to attack.To what extent does on go?
The patriot act of 2001 in the United states increased the ability of the law enforcing agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial and other records; eases restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expands the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and enhances the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expands the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.
Excellent!is it not?now that the US government can read or listen to each and every conversation that is going on,it would make it almost impossible for terrorists to communicate,right?WRONG!The terrorists can still communicate.They can encrypt(3) their data to the extent that by the time it is decrypted,the attack would already have taken place,or they can use the good old word of mouth method or a messenger method,which although would be slow,would be reliable.So,what does the government do now?Simple…it launches spy satellites,sets up cameras at all the public places to watch for suspicious activities,track anyone suspicious etc..There is no end to this.
So what is the problem then?Let the government do what it wants to do to make the world a safer place…how does it matter to me?Hmmmm…let me think…HOW DOES IT NOT?I mean,why would I want a security camera to stare at me each and every place where I go-My workplace(college in my case),my room,my dinner table,the restaurant where I wanna party with some friends,a romantic date,even when I go to the bathroom?Having faced this at an airport,it’s does not feel very comfortable to eat right in front of a security camera.I know that maybe the government does not care if my dad is scolding me for getting a bad GPA,but bring me one person who can guarantee that I would not be put on some kind of security watch list if I include words like bombs,terrorism,kill,guns,etc. in a mail or during a chat conversation.Maybe I already am listed on the “damn stupid list of terrorists” list in some government office after writing this article since I will be using the e-mail to submit it.These security measures would also give an attacker almost unlimited power if he manages to break into such a system.Imagine what he could do then!Also,do not such measures make laws like the need to have a search warrant for searching a place(which ensure the privacy of citizens) completely obsolete?Just move that camera around baby,why waste time on a search warrant!
There is another issue on which the Roman satirist Juvenal had to say sometime during the first and second century-” quis custodiet ipsoscustodes?” which literally translates to-”Who will guard the guardians?”.The importance of this here is that if some political party of an extremist mindset somehow comes into power or some military coup takes place and the dictator becomes corrupted with this much amount of power(it would be easy for someone to get absolutely corrupted with so much power),it would be almost impossible to stop him.
In essence,the point I am trying to make here is that although security is important,there has to be some limit.A limit which respects the right of a citizen to have some privacy.A limit,which allows me to have my mexican green wave pizza without staring at a camera,which is staring back at my face.
1.Wardriving- the act of searching for Wi-Fi wireless networks by a person in a moving vehicle, using a portable computer or PDA.
2.Cracker-generic term for a computer criminal, often with a specific specialty in computer intrusion.
3.Encrypt-the process of transforming information (referred to as plaintext) using an algorithm (called cipher) to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key.
Note:All the definition in the glossary and the information about the US Patriot Act has been taken from wikipedia.