Privacy Faces New Reality
Privacy isnt looking quite so sacred anymore.
Gone are the good old days of worry over e-commerce customer lists and fears of unauthorized FBI snooping into the lives of average Americans. From the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a bitter new reality has emerged: Our very lives are at stake.
The war against terrorism will be waged primarily by spies, counterspies and special forces. Cruise missiles and smart bombs are quaintly passe. The struggle will be won by whomever has the most accurate information on the enemy. For our side, that means high-quality intelligence on terrorist cells, their activities and their plans. For them: good data on our habits, cultural preferences and meeting places.
Unfortunately, the information terrorists desire is easily accessible. Open the Sunday paper, check for sporting and cultural events, conferences, meetings. Call airlines and find timetables. Rent a car.
Our task is far more difficult and will require the use of every communications surveillance tool in our arsenal. Wireless, wireline, satellite and Internet communications must all be monitored closely.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am willing to give up my own cyberprivacy for the greater good of stopping future terrorist acts and saving lives - with one caveat. Government surveillance must be focused only on those suspected of planning or perpetrating terrorist acts against the U.S. or its allies.
We must be careful not to let last weeks events lead to a permanent surveillance carte blanche. Personal liberty and freedom are hallmarks of our society, and must never be subrogated for tyranny. However, we are in a new war where information is more precious and powerful than military might.
We must use it to the fullest extent possible.