Due to increased radical, jihadist terrorism via Islamic State (IS) and Al-Queda, our world today is now on a much higher alert: e.g., two recent attacks in Canada, and most recently, the Charlie Hebdo-related terror attack in France that killed 14 people, and the beheading of two Japanese hostages.
It is no longer a secret that in the United States, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been setting itself up to grab much more personal/private information from U.S. residents and citizens. Today, the NSA is building a huge complex in the state of Utah to collect unfathomable amount of personal information. This will intrude upon the privacy of not only American citizens, but of people around the world. (Thanks to Edward Snowden’s uncovering the government’s covert plans). Snowden has sought exile in Russia in order to evade American authorities who want to press charges against him. He recently spoke to 1,000 students at Upper Canada College via video.
Canada has just unveiled its new security legislation. The risk is that it would include sweeping new powers to CSIS that will allow the government to collect private information from people without our consent or knowledge. Canada has set itself up for a similar move toward more intrusion upon our privacy in the attempt of increasing national security.
Our private information like photos, addresses, etc. on Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail, and other social media are no longer private. Neither is surfing the web on Bell and Rogers wifi. Intrusion of privacy will be the new price we pay for using social media. Governments obviously appreciate the greater ease of collecting private information. Facebook has given the government agencies a huge boost in greater information. If this intrusion upon our privacy becomes more widely known by the public, more people will be leaving social media. People will be choosing to close their Facebook accounts. As people, we love and value our privacy even though we have nothing to hide.
The question is: will this prevent or stop the “would-be” terrorists from their heinous crimes, probably not. They will probably figure out new ways to hide their communications, while the privacy of innocent civilians are tampered with. The argument might be analogous to the gun-control debate: Would registering legal firearms prevent criminals from using illegal guns. Personally, I think…Not. Criminals are not dummies. Would-be criminals will find ways to evade detection of their covert criminal activities. The danger I fear is that innocent people would be hurt, framed, or caught in the cross-fire.
Like most law-abiding citizens, we want the plans of terrorists thwarted, but we also wish to have our privacy respected. Either way, we might have no choice. We are entering a less private world, and a less safer world. But if we want a society with more privacy, then we need to fight for our beloved freedoms. What kind of world do we prefer to live in?