Security vs. privacy

she is god. The Internet has become a tool of the despots — and every country and every corporation is becoming the Stasi.

During the cold war, the United States and the West demonized the USSR and the communists for denying their subjects/citizens property rights; freedom of speech; freedom of thought; freedom of religion.

Today, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, Russia, India — every nation spies on its citizens. They all do it in the name of security and protecting the citizenry from terrorists.

That’s funny…I don’t recall the U.S. constitution or any other government’s charter that required it to guarantee its citizens 100 percent safety or 100 percent security. Defense of the common good — yes. Decent infrastructure — yes.

Freedom from crime and terrorism is possible…but only if you live in a jail cell. As for privacy — privacy of thought is a basic human right. Hell, we prized ourselves in the West for fighting for the dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. We even gave some of them Nobel peace prizes and visas to the West.

Today, the U.S. government (and others around the world) jail more dissidents, whistleblowers, and freedom fighters than ever before. And corporations such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Adobe, Sony, Disney, etc. deny us basic property rights by “licensing” software and media to us.

I submit to you that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Washington, Gandhi, Bolivar, Manning, Snowden. To every elected politician, president, senator, prime minister, and king, honest dissent is seen as subversive.

Before you answer the question “security OR privacy,” ask yourself the question — from whom; for whom, and for how long.

When Vladimir Putin praises PRISM and the NSA, then I think we have a problem.

When Steve Wozniak points out the similarities between the cloud and the communists, I think we have a problem.

In every generation, a new King John, a new Khrushchev, and a new Solzhenitsyn are born. It’s our job as citizens to defend the rights given to us by our respective constitutions and demand that they be conferred on our weakest citizens, not just the strongest or the wealthiest.

Feel free to have a reasonable (or unreasonable, as long as good beer or bourbon are involved) debate with me at ASIS 2013 in Chicago or wherever you catch me next — Hague, Helsinki, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Curacao, New Zealand — I will be bringing my opinions and research to a conference near you.

Raj Goel, CISSP, is Chief Technology Officer at Brainlink International, Inc.