Public Safety Vs. Individual Privacy

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Public safety vs. Individual privacy


Individual privacy is more important. People can say that public safety protects freedom but it doesn't, because you have sacrificed your freedom to get protection. In democratic nation the whole goal is to have the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and it is impossible to achieve these ends if the primary concern is safety. They are both important but a balance must be found where privacy has greater value. Once you give away any freedoms for safety, you'll never get them back. This paper examines how the United States is a country that prides itself on the level of freedom afforded to its citizens and how freedom and the rights of the individual are two concepts that helped shape the very backbone of the country.


The concept of privacy has a prominent place in historical debates and numerous scholarly works. In the past decade, however, the issue of privacy ascended to the forefront of social debates, frequently centering on the impact of technology (the Internet, data mining, satellite observations), government surveillance, national security, and corporate intrusions into private lives. If a working definition of privacy refers to the ability of individuals or groups to preserve an anonymous identity, control the flow of information about themselves, and be unbound from unwarranted intrusions, it would appear that the laws in the United States and elsewhere need to catch up to technology (Volokh, 1052).

Scholars who believe privacy is a legal right argue that, although privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, a right to privacy is implicit in the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, providing protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Scholars who contend that privacy is not a legal right argue that because the Constitution does not mention the word privacy, citizens do not have privacy rights (Brin, 36). They are also quick to point out that, regardless of how one interprets the Fourth Amendment, a compelling state interest must prevail over a person's right to privacy in order to properly protect the underpinnings of liberty. Scholars who fall somewhere in between assert that the Fourth Amendment may protect citizens against actions by the state but that it rarely protects them from intrusions by other citizens, corporations, or the press (Harrow, 225).

The integration of the Internet and other technologies into the daily routines of citizens presents unique challenges to privacy rights. Many corporations, schools, and government and civic institutions now store personal information about their members, clients, and employees in databases that are accessible via the Internet. Camera surveillance systems in many cities monitor for various traffic violations, while some law enforcement agencies use it to monitor city streets in search of people who display suspicious or unlawful behavior (Alderman, 59). Some private institutions even want to monitor employee e-mails and files and track employee computer work habits. In recent years, some companies, worried about their images, fired employees because of content on the employees' personal Web sites, blogs, ...
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