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National Security Versus Personal Privacy Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 2nd, 2020

There are many critiques developed regarding the way of providing protection to American citizens. The contemporary debate among the US security shareholders is whether the national security or personal privacy of the US citizens comes first. The balance between these two contrasting security needs of Americans cannot be considered without sacrificing some elements of the two.

The majority of the critiques argue that sacrificing personal privacy in the direct sense violates the liberty of Americans (Noble, 2013). On the other hand, the critics that oppose this idea relate the events of September 11, 2001 to a bleach of security through the increased personal privacy prevailing in the country. This essay supports that national security should be given more priority than personal security.

Policymakers have a role to play in ensuring that efficient systems are executed to enhance national security. The question is how much security does an ordinary American needs and how much liberty should be extended to the same person. Of course, living in a country with all the liberty in terms of personal privacy, but a poor security system does not make sense.

With considerations of the security systems put forth by the US security agencies, drastic changes have taken place, affecting individual personal privacy for the American citizens with the aim of countering terrorism in the US and the world at large. Noble (2013) purports that majority of policymakers of the world have been construed to put forward motions to design and install superior security systems that provide the utmost security.

The fight against terrorism requires better tools and mechanisms. Zero tolerance to terror and prioritization of lives calls for the need to support national security over personal privacies (O’Harrow Jr, 1999). As a defender of the national surveillance, national security translates to saving lives of the US citizens.

This connotation has been supported by Feinstein, who justifies the installation of a US government surveillance system, where she asserts that the events of September 11 could have been averted if the National Security agency had enough resources with regard to the mass collection of metadata of the people in the US at the time (Denenberg, 2013). Every good comes with a price.

Considering that Feinstein’s intuitions were true, the US citizens require paying a little price of their privacy, which includes some levels of speech freedoms. In addition, the government so far has endeavored the secret installation of security systems for feasibility testing their best in terms of commanding better mechanisms of counter terrorism.

In fact, the majority of US citizens have not been aware of the presence of such systems until the enactment of such laws as those that provide justification for the use of such security systems and their systematic but secret desecration of personal privacy (O’Harrow Jr, 1999). The definition of terrorism is controversial with regard to the US government’s participation in their quest for war on terror in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, various security measures entailing violation of personal privacy and hence civil liberties to prevent future terrorism attempts in the US have so far proved to be successful (Denenberg, 2013). These security practices have been adopted in many first countries, although in a less elaborate manner than in the US. The intelligence agencies in the US have blended their systems and services to and from a global web in order to offer comprehensive global surveillance.

Terrorist attacks in the US show that national security issues should be addressed urgently. In many instances, the government provides non-classified information regarding their security systems and the extent to which they violate liberty of expression but critiques over-represent what is placed forth (O’Harrow Jr, 1999).

For instance, when balancing between the personal rights of American citizens against national security systems, the government intelligence agencies provide protection to all citizens from terrorist threats and actions, with reverence of security value. In this regard, the national security considers some liberties as a sacrifice in order to offer maximum protection of its citizens.

In the last twenty years, the US has faced two terror bombings, the first taking place in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympic Games, and the second early in the new millennium, which killed around three thousand American citizens (Denenberg, 2013).

George Bush instituted the “War on Terror” program to exterminate terrorism from the face of the earth. Ever since, there are minimal incidences of terrorism globally. In fact, these acts show the vulnerability of the US to terrorism and call for dire measures to counter terrorism including the sacrifice of personal liberties of speech.

Enhanced levels of personal privacy affect national security negatively. In addition to increased awareness of possibilities of terror in the US, the increasing globalization with movements of people and materials across the US borders, the primary solution to national security problem is to compromise personal privacy and institute security systems able to cumulatively collect metadata of all people within the boundaries of US.

The extent of personal privacy compromise goes beyond the bounds of the US with direct monitoring of international visitors and identifying potential pointers to terrorism before the actual act takes place (Noble, 2013). Increased personal privacy and current technological advances in the global community directly affect the integrity of a poor security system.

This directly affects the level of intelligence acquisition by the agencies concerned. Therefore, the compromise of personal privacy, with profiling and discrimination of metadata that is of high priority, plays a crucial role in defining the US as a safe country to live.

Leakage of information and advancements in technology are threats to the national security. In the past decade, technological advances have taken a new turn, which has also trickled down to the enhancement of security systems technologically.

Citizens require support from the government in an bid to develop systems that are able to “sneak” into the privacy of their lives to gather intelligence for purposes of safeguarding national security considering the prevailing dissemination of computer viruses, cyber-terrorism, as well as theft and fraud through hacking and acquisition of personal identification information. The installation of the electronic surveillance system by the US government has led to a decline in cyber crimes in the recent past.

The Federal Intrusion Detection Network (FidNet), which was instituted by Bill Clinton in late 1990s, has protected the government computer security system and facilitated in seizing hackers and terrorists into their systems as well as protected computers from viruses and worms. From a continued use of the system, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency are using critics to balance the efforts of preserving national security while maintaining personal privacy.

In fact, this is an essential approach because it would ensure that both personal and national issues with regard to security are addressed. Although there have been dozens of leaks depicting the black image of NSA, CIA and FBI, and their violation of some liberties and rights of average US citizens, the violations have been shown to be within the constitutional boundaries.

In addition, the development and installation of security systems by the NSA to monitor emails sent within and outside the US have not been shown to be misused by the security agencies in the country. The freedoms of expression commanded by the media fraternity and the scare they create to the general public has resulted in the spread of fear of domestic spying among Americans (Noble, 2013).

One would think that the US is superior to terrorism, but the easy attacks made early in the twenty first century clearly define the vulnerability of the United States. Moreover, the advances in nanotechnology and indulgence in nuclear technology pose a threat to the US security with other first world countries seeking superiority in terms of warfare, economy and technology.

International bodies play great roles in ensuring national safety. The international organization for intelligence gathering, the ECHELON, is the most powerful international organization run by intelligence organizations of five nations, including the United Kingdom, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The security system is believed to intercept communications that are satellite-based.

This system is a clear evidence of a balance between national security at the international level and personal privacy. Although it can violate some civil liberties, one can identify ECHELON as a security system that aims at averting security breaches and terrorism. In conclusion, stipulation of the importance of national security to the US citizens would lead to acceptance of installation of security systems to promote national security.


Denenberg, S. (2013). What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security? Web.

Noble, J. (2013). . Web.

O’Harrow Jr, R. (1999). Computer Security Proposal is Revised: Critics Had Raised Online Privacy Fears. Web.

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