Essays in the Category "Terrorism"

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Protecting Privacy and Liberty

The events of 11 September offer a rare chance to rethink public security.

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Nature
  • October 25, 2001

Appalled by the events of 11 September, many Americans have declared so loudly that they are willing to give up civil liberties in the name of security that this trade-off seems to be a fait accompli. Article after article in the popular media debates the ‘balance’ of privacy and security—are various types of increase in security worth the consequent losses to privacy and civil liberty? Rarely do I see discussion about whether this linkage is valid.

Security and privacy are not two sides of an equation. This association is simplistic and largely fallacious. The best ways to increase security are not at the expense of privacy and liberty. Giving airline pilots firearms, reinforcing cockpit doors, better authentication of airport maintenance workers, armed air marshals travelling on flights and teaching flight attendants karate are all examples of suggested security measures that have no effect on individual privacy or liberties…

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.