The relationship between privacy and security cannot be conceptualized easily as what some people refer to, as security is seen by others as a restriction on their privacy. Cole and Dempsey (2006) note that there is a disagreement on the notion of privacy. It is defined from many angles, for example, in terms of personal integrity, intimacy, right to have control over individual information, be alone, or have firm communication with others. Security is a broad term that is nearly linked to surveillance. It is believed that if people are watched, the more responsible, more civilized, and less rebellious they become. It follows that greater surveillance means less privacy and more security. According to Cole and Dempsey (2006), while safety focuses on achieving social benefits to a society such as reduced crime levels, intimacy is about individual’s freedom not to be watched. In brief, it is not worthwhile to put personal privacy above the entire country’s well-being. National security is of more importance than personal privacy.
The use of surveillance cameras has remarkably reduced the crime rate, as perpetrators are afraid they are traced. According to Akrivopoulou and Psygkas (2011), the invention of electronic supervision has made it easier to arrest violators, comparing to the situation 100 years ago. The surveillance devices have boosted the reliability of law and made it easier to gather evidence. When crime occurs, the law enforcers only need to access the supervision equipment and watch what transpired. When surveillance devices are used in monitoring, the police officers become more effective to take necessary actions to save the lives of citizens. Akrivopoulou and Psygkas (2011) observe that this equipment also shapes the behavior of citizens in public places. For instance, the 24/7 surveillance devices in highways help track dangerous drivers. If a motorist over-speeds, breaks the traffic rules, or hits another vehicle and runs, the law enforcers can easily track the actions of the violator on a video. When citizens realize they are under surveillance, they behave well to avoid troubles.
Cole and Dempsey (2006) observe that national security is the foundation of other fundamental rights. People cannot speak simply if they confront dangers. The government takes precautionary measures to prevent them and to guarantee people security they want. For instance, the authorities monitor phone calls and scan emails not to sabotage the citizens, but to prevent possible threats. The government protects its subjects against crimes to ensure that people are out of danger. According to Cole and Dempsey (2006), if it was not for administration’s intervention and regulation, which is achieved through some infringement of personal privacy, the country would experience difficulties unifying people and interacting with other nations. Security is by far more important than privacy, as it is about a relatively larger group of people. To date, when terrorism has become a reality, it is more prudent to mind about the safety of a country at large, than to avoid inconveniencing individuals. Governments often spy on their citizens, but they cause no harm. Since there are numerous benefits on the other side, then it is worthwhile. As a result of spying, the law enforcement agencies have found and prevented many attacks, most of which people do not even realize. It follows that personal privacy is important, but national security prevails because, without safety, intimacy is not guaranteed.
Akrivopoulou, C.& Psygkas, A. (2011). Personal data privacy and protection in a surveillance era: Technologies and practices. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Cole, D.& Dempsey, J. X. (2006). Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security. New York: New Press.