What is more important: Security or Privacy?

This is basically a very interesting and pretty fundamental question for the society. After 9/11 the US changed the way they work significantly. Just as an example: Airlines had to give the US government information about passengers flying to the US that actually violate the privacy laws in Europe. So, the decision had to be made: Either you violate the laws or you do not fly to the US anymore… What do you do now? Well, the Data Protection Officers actually had to give in.

So, if you look at it from a broader perspective: It is pretty natural that National Intelligence as well as Law Enforcement is looking for as much information as possible to fight crime. And I guess, that successful Law Enforcement and Intelligence Services is something we all would like to have – we want them to protect us. But what are we willing to pay? How far are we letting them invade our privacy? This is the key question and something there is no one answer for.

If you look at this article US spy chief puts security over privacy compared to the comment I made in 2-year old terrorist, it really scares me. I see the dilemma we are in – no doubt. And to be completely honest: I am not sure how far I want to let my privacy go for the sake of my security. I am living in a very safe and secure country – in Switzerland. However I know that the National Police has to work hard to keep it that way. So probably it is as always: As long as nothing happens to me personally, I fight for Privacy. As soon as something happens, I want as much Security as possible.

A problem we all know, don't we: Nobody wants to pay for security but as soon as something happens…

Your view?


Comments (5)

  1. daveb says:

    Bruce Schneier says it better than I can "Too many wrongly characterize the debate as ‘security versus privacy.’ The real choice is liberty versus control".

    I highly recommend this http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2006/05/70886

    As far as I can see the US has accepted a level of control which would have been regarded as a tyranny a while back, while gaining zero extra security. You have not traded privacy for security; you have given up privacy and gained nothing.

    Your security is no greater now than it was before 9/11. What aspects of that tragedy would the current situation have stopped?

  2. Franz says:

    It is always worth reading Bruce Schneier. Here is an article in the latest Cryptogram:

    "Where Should Airport Security Begin?"


    Airport Security Study


    The pay-off is not in balance with the plus in security. Unfortunately the EU is following the US in giving up privacy for pseudo security. As long I don’t have influence on what PII are given away officially, I don’t need to worry about ID theft.

  3. Shoaib Yousuf says:


    I do agree and understand where you are coming from. But, I guess when it comes to the safety of the country and its people security wins over privacy. Security cannot be enforced properly without invading privacy.

    I personally think Privacy is important but when it’s the question of Country Security we should not worried about privacy.

    For example: If 1000 people are travelling. If Law Enforcement doesn’t check the details properly how they will find the suspect traveller? What I mean is 999 people have to go through privacy issues in order to help Law Enforcement to get hold of 1 suspect.

    I know privacy is very important. But in this case I would be more worried about security not privacy.

    Again, that’s just my opinion.



  4. debating kid says:


    "Security cannot be enforced properly without invading privacy"

    I think that privacy is a bit more important than security. Although i do agree that security is important, if we do not have privacy, i think the nation will revolt, causing a national debate worse than privacy vs security. I’m in between the argument, I believe that we need to balance out our privacy and security, before our nation gets anymore corupt than it already is. But thats just a little kids opinion, so who cares, right? I hope this rather long comment makes people think a little more; to see my point of view for a moment.

    Thanks for the debate,

    debating kid

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