restricted access Part III. Revisiting Privacy in an Age of Terror
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PART III Revisiting Privacy in an Age of Terror In the twenty-first century, when rapidly developing technologies of openness will make it harder for terrorists to blend in with the crowd, we must assume that the glare of greater transparency will unveil elements of our own lives. Although reducing the threat of terrorism is a welcomed benefit, more openness stands in direct conflict with the country’s long history of valuing privacy and respecting anonymity. It may be that in order to reconcile this conflict, Americans will be called upon to decide which elements of privacy must be protected at all costs and which might be conceded in the interest of greater security. It’s not often that the public is called upon to revisit its conception of privacy. Privacy is rarely brought into question; it is usually accepted as an all-American, apple-pie value, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everybody wants privacy for him- or herself and can rarely get enough of it. And because privacy seldom conflicts with other rights, a discussion about balancing it with other societal concerns occurs infrequently. Amitai Etzioni’s book The Limits of Privacy (New York: Basic Books, 1999) is a rare example of a call to weigh privacy against other societal goods. For example, he believes that the right to privacy of sexual predators must be balanced with the community’s need to protect itself from criminals who tend to display a high recidivism rate. Getting to the core of what is most important about privacy will demand that each of us ask some difficult questions. There are many assumptions about privacy that we frequently take for granted but must examine in an honest debate about the issue. Although questioning some of these sacred cows may PAGE 115 .......................... 10897$ PRT3 08-31-04 10:08:31 PS rankle some of the issue’s most fervent supporters, it will allow the public to make a more informed choice when it comes to finding the appropriate balance between openness and privacy. Chapter 8 and several proceeding chapters begin this effort by presenting some of the more common views about privacy and inviting their examination. PAGE 116 .......................... 10897$ PRT3 08-31-04 10:08:31 PS ...


Subject Headings

  • Privacy, Right of -- United States.
  • Electronic surveillance -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Social control -- United States.
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009.
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