ARGUMENTATIVE has gone to great lengths to

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The concept of security has a longer heritage than
that of privacy. Since man stepped on Earth, survival has been his biggest
challenge and he has gone to great lengths to assure that his species avoid
extinction. Over the centuries the definition of security has evolved.

Historically it meant ‘freedom from care, anxiety, worry or doubt’. Today the
formal definition of security stands somewhat like this: ‘the state of being
protected from or not exposed to danger’. In contemporary terms it can also
be defined as ‘the amount of protection provided by the government by
watching over its citizens’. This definition leads to a very serious
question. To what extent can the government watch over its citizens? It also
introduces to us the term ‘privacy’ which means ‘freedom from
intrusion or to be left alone in one’s personal life, without facing interference
from any outside individual, group or factors’.  Does watching over the citizens give
government the right to invade privacies? Is intruding in the public lives of
the people the only way in which the government can protect citizens? To a
rational mind the answer should be a big no. The privacy of the public
should not be sacrificed in the name of security because freedom, civil
liberty, self determination and self-respect are essential rights of all.

The right to
freedom is a basic right of every citizen and is present in constitutions all
around the world.

Unless a man has civil liberty, he cannot be called a free man. Today
however, the powerful governments have denied us this right and are constantly
intruding into our privacies by warrantless eavesdropping on phone calls,
reading private e-mails, ordering secret demands of private records and
conducting arrests without warrants. This
was revealed in a recent leak when in June 2013, former CIA contractor Edward Snowden leaked
information revealing that the United States government had an extensive
surveillance programme known as PRISM, which monitored communications on a
global scale. It also emerged that GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and security
agency, was intercepting and processing billions of communications every day
and sharing the information with the US. That project, known as Tempora had
been in existence since the beginning of 2012 and included recordings of phone
calls, the content of E-mail messages, entries of social media sites like
Facebook and the history of an internet users access to websites. Third
parties can access our private data anytime and anywhere and the information is
also shared with multi-national companies so that they can study human behavior
towards the market and make better advertisements and products. In other words
our privacy is intruded for the mere purpose that some companies would make
higher profits. In Pakistan there have been cases where innocent people were
picked up by intelligence agencies without warrant and later found in mass
graves.  Some are still missing and their
dead bodies have not been found. The condition of today’s man in this
regard is no better than that of medieval time’s slaves who were kept under
strict check and scrutiny by their masters and used for their own luxury.

Recently, strict airport checks have also denied a man’s right of
self-respect. People who want to visit U.S.A or other
western countries go through strip search and full body checking by the airport
authorities. For most people this is shameful and unacceptable because it is
not only an intrusion into privacy but a direct attack on the emotions and
feelings of a person. They are treated as suspects rather than just customers.

And then again many cultures and religions won’t allow for such a thing. This
has caused many people who saw bright futures in western countries to reject
the idea of going there and has crushed their dreams. The victims are usually
the citizens of Muslim world and thus the act also comes under religious
discrimination and persecution. There can be other ways in which airport
security can be tightened. For e.g. giving airline pilots firearms, reinforcing
cockpit doors, better authentication of airport maintenance workers, armed air
marshals travelling on flights and teaching flight attendants karate are all
examples of suggested security measures that have no effect on individual
privacy or liberties. We do not necessarily have to invade privacies to provide
better security on airports.

The most common
retort against privacy advocates by pro-security members is this line: “If
you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?” In this they assume that
privacy is all about hiding a wrong while it is not. The answer to them is
simply this: “Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for
maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.” We do nothing wrong
when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything
when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private
journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers
and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need. Other members of
pro-security would argue that it is the duty of the government to provide
security to its citizens and that it does not matter if we sacrifice a portion
of our liberty for security. Well to them the answer is that many evil events in history started
with good intentions and few cases of injustice. Allowing even a few abuses as
an acceptable side effect of improved security will change the tolerance level
of the public and lead to a belief that rights such as the presumption of
innocence and habeas corpus (which prevents the state from imprisoning someone
without charging them with a crime and then trying them) are a negotiable
luxury. As American president Benjamin Franklin rightly said “those who would
give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither
liberty nor safety”.

changing the constitution on civil liberties and freedom for added security
would show the terrorists that they have been successful in changing the
lifestyles of people and the alternative laws can also be misused by the
governments for their own benefits. It would mean that it is the terrorists who are in the
driving seat and not the government. Also, we have seen that tight security
checks have been unsuccessful against suicide bombers who easily explode
themselves while they are being checked. The governments of the world, who
spend billions of dollars on security, should devise alternative plans of
prevention of terrorism and develop stronger intelligence networks. Terrorists
should be targeted at their places of generation and their networks cut from
the grass root level, rather than allowing them to grow and then taking a
late-stage action. Also, if the constitution makes a law for search and arrest
without warrant, the government can use the law to persecute opposition workers
so it would be too risky to bring in such a law.

All in all, we can
conclude that security can be provided without sacrificing the basic human
rights of freedom and civil liberty. Favouring security over privacy would have
damaging implications on social lives, can disturb the day to day lives of
every individual and lead to human abuse. In alternative we should look for
ways that can improve security structure and at the same time ensure all our
rights of freedom and civil liberty.






















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