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Ethical Issues of Individual Privacy and Security

Since the beginning of the “information era,” personal privacy has been the most valuable asset that the vast majority of people cannot obtain. Moreover, the issue is only expanding despite many significant conflicts targeted to slow the growth of government intervention in private life. On the other hand, when it comes to crime prevention, which is the “only” reason for public security representatives to observe other people’s personalized data, accusing some of the parties of the conflict becomes a much-complicated challenge.

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On the one side, there are criminals who do their job by robbing certain society members. Undoubtedly, their negative impact on society should be lessened. On the other side, there are government authority representatives who are aimed to neutralize criminals and improve social safety. The most complicated obstacle is to find a specific criterion that would determine the balancing level of maximum security and minimal intervention in private lives. Eventually, local authorities are crossing the border of private life security, but their intervention is done with maximum effectiveness regarding the significant number of criminals, so the whole system needs some additional, but not structural, improvements. Consequently, I personally support the idea of being tracked throughout my whole life in order to feel safer in the place of living.

In fact, different theories might argumentatively prove both of the conflict sides. However, some major ethical theories would help to correctly represent the importance of overall security and adequate personal data analysis. First and foremost, based on utilitarian theory, those actions are morally acceptable, which increases the overall happiness in society. When implementing utilitarianism ethics into Carpenter versus the United States case, the FBI actions would be positively met because a person who decreased the level of happiness by committing a crime was accused of them and would receive a just punishment even though his private life was investigated.

However, when analyzing the case from a “deontological” perspective, the security actions would not be considered as “moral.” In fact, this is due to the fundamental goal of deontology: focusing on the actions themselves and ignoring the outcomes of those actions. While the theory analyzes the situation with strict boundaries, it helps to understand the real essence of the personal data invasion by third parties, who are the security representatives in this case (Hershel et al., 2017). As a result, the FBI disclosed such information that might compromise the person without any permission from local authorities so that the personal privacy rights were strictly violated and should be considered unethical.

Secondly, turning to the deeper theories such as social justice view, Carpenter would be again a victim of FBI personal information rights violation. On the other hand, when analyzing the situation with moral regard, having equal rights in society means that all people should be judged equally. In fact, if considering a non-anarchist country, which is the United States with the established institutions that prevent the society from internal destruction, the FBI agents should be judged not as people but as government representatives, which theoretically takes away their personal identity (Weale, 2020). Last but not least, in social contract theory limits, Carpenter’s case should be represented from the theory that all of the social agents in the society should live in strict accordance with generally accepted rules. Undoubtedly, the FBI agents violated Carpenter’s rights, but he was the first who has disrupted social stability by committing a crime. Consequently, the government representatives acted morally as they were aimed to return social equality.


Herschel, R., & Miori, V. M. (2017). Ethics & Big Data. Technology in Society, 49, 31–36.

Weale, A. (2020). Modern Social Contract Theory (1st ed.). OUP Oxford.

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