Good News: No Need To Trade Privacy For Security

from the have-your-privacy-and-eat-it-too dept

Benjamin Franklin once famously said that, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This has been a mantra of many people opposed to the increasing use of surveillance technology in society and the disproportionate responses the government displays to any conceivable dangern. But, is liberty really at odds with safety and security, and is technology necessarily going to erode privacy over time? A new study by the UK Royal Academy of Engineering concludes that this needn’t be a problem so long as engineers design systems with privacy in mind. For example, the study notes, travel and shopping could be designed to allow for anonymity with greater use of things like loyalty cards not tied to an individual. This kind of thing is already happening a bit, as the use of gift cards is exploding, along with decentralized online identity systems like OpenID. Still, the study’s authors do seem a bit naive when arguing that the government should put more privacy rules in place on businesses, and make greater use of experts before designing centralized databases. While these suggestions sound nice, it’s hard to imagine that the government will ever become a leading force for better, privacy-oriented technology.

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Comments on “Good News: No Need To Trade Privacy For Security”

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MrWizard says:

Re: Safety vs Freedom

“So you’re against seat belt laws, helmet laws, car seat laws, electrical codes, fire regulations, building permits, etc, etc, etc?”

yes, yes, no, no, no, some

I have no problem with common sense laws regarding public safety. You’ll note I said PUBLIC safety, as in making sure someone’s stupidity doesn’t kill someone else.

I do have a problem with laws that try to protect me from myself. The worst of these type of laws are the seatbelt/helmet laws.

If I choose not to wear my helmet, then crash and crack my skull open, my helmet choice only affected me, no one else. The same goes for seatbelts.

The pro- seatbelt/helmet folks will tell you that my argument diesn’t hold true because when I crack my skull open my medical bills will be higher causing everyone insurance to be affected. Well, if that’s true, then logically, the reverse would be true as well. If everybody all of a sudden started wearing helmets then insurance rates would go down because of less medical expenses, right?

Wrong. There is not a single state in the country whose average insurance rates decreased after implementing seatbelt/helmet laws. Hell, there isn’t even a single state where rates stayed the same.

Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox now…

Anonymous Coward says:


Benjamin Franklin once famously said that, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

No, Ben Franklin is often attributed as having said that, be he himself seems to have denied it. The actual author of the quote is lost in history, other than to say the Pennsylvania Assembly.

Jared says:

I’ve seen that misattributed Ben Franklin quote time and time again on slashdot. It’s funny how quickly you get marked as troll when you express your own opinion that disagrees with the Party Line there. Just as i disagree with the author of said quote. It may have been true for the times, but times change. With new technologies and such huge advances in the world since then, a quaint addage no longer applies. Those that refuse to temporarily sacrifice “liberty” for safety, might very well be dead before they get to enjoy this “liberty” they so hysterically screamed about.

Spoonman (user link) says:

Privacy DOES equal liberty

Privacy is the most basic of liberties. It’s from the privacy of our thoughts, being able to assemble privately and plan that liberty derives. How interesting it is that the founding fathers didn’t have to find a spot outside the range of a British camera in order to plan their revolution. It’s my opinion that the simple fact that it’s not included in the US Constitution is that it was so basic a liberty, no one even thought to define it. It’s like thinking to define your right to breathe. If you disagree, great, let me put a 24/7 webcam in your bedroom, please. But, regardless of your opinion of current technologies, the time is now to stem the tide before newer, more insidious technology begins to arise….such as the ability to monitor thoughts. Yes, it’s a tinhat theory, that doesn’t mean the technology is outside the realm of eventual possibility. Within our lifetimes? Probably not, but don’t we owe it to the future to ensure they don’t have to worry about the prospect of thought crimes? At that point, the adage of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about” becomes moot because EVERYONE, at some point or another, has had thoughts that could be construed as criminal. If you haven’t, then you need to be dissected because you’re not of this earth. Actually, isn’t the technology in use in the UK that automatically will detect “criminal intent” or something like that?

Laws should protect people from criminal activities, not criminal intent.

tracelan, since when did electrical codes infringe on a person’s privacy or liberty? Sure, some argument could be made, I guess, that a person should be allowed to wire their house however they wish, they just don’t ever get to sell it, or even allow another person to enter without sufficient warning. Just for the record, I’m against seat belt and car seat laws, too. You’re stupid enough to ignore ’em, we’re better off without you or your offspring in the gene pool.

Jared, the reason you’re marked as a troll is because you are. I realize you think the world is a big and scary place right now, but despite what dubya wants you to believe, the terrorists are NOT going to get you (at least not the islamic ones). The chances of you being harmed in any way by the kinds of things these privacy-invading devices and tactics are supposed to “protect” you against are significantly lower than you getting hit by an asteroid. Grow up, little girl and raise up your steel parasol.

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