Privacy and Liberty in Ensuring Security

The focal point of the paper is to formulate an organized essay taking a position that defends the claim that government has the right to sacrifice elements of privacy and liberty to ensure security. Given the 9/11 incident, it is but an obvious choice to defend the position of government in the context of security otherwise there remains a constant threat of attack and disaster. The Declaration of Independence indeed mentions, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Kindig, 1) However, there are times when such issues should be sacrificed for the good of the people to exercise these rights.

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It should be remembered that the disaster of 9/11 took place when the terrorists took advantage of the American social way of life where the number of domestic frequent fliers is high enough to suffer a low-security system. The same is true about London underground rail blast. In both cases, the terrorists took advantage of the counties’ way of social life and it would be impossible to alter this way of life putting security as an alibi where the menace is organized by a fundamentalist motive.

While dealing with issues like safety and security the conception of homeland security becomes a prime concern. Formerly regarded as ‘civil defense’, the concept of ‘homeland security became the central issue of public safety. In America, the term homeland security covers all efforts of the government-federal, state, and local-for protecting the general population against the risk of terrorist attacks and the use of a National ID card is just one such measure. True, “After September 11, it’s only natural that the nation would search for ways to increase its security. But law enforcement has overstepped the boundaries of acceptable surveillance of Americans in the past.” (Green, 1) However, it should be noted that there is a price to everything and the issue of privacy is the price of safety and security. The government steps, therefore, created a feeling of tension between the desire to protect the state and the desire to protect individual privacy.

In this context, it should be noted that the law imposed the Patriot act and this appeared as a potential violation of human rights. The United States Congress passed the USE Patriot Act in 2001. The purpose of the act is to give more authority to law enforcement within the United States, to investigate and prevent terrorist attacks before they happen. Along with this came some loss of individual freedoms, because the government was now able to investigate its citizens. Thus, the rights of the accused were abolished automatically. The National ID card is a more soft issue in this context. The National ID card is a verification tool that would be instrumental to speed up the procedure in public places. People holding this card would be checked lightly than people who are not holding this card. It is stated, “It’s a tradeoff between privacy and convenience: the toll-takers know more about you”. (Dershowitz, 1).

A large number of factors pose threat to human life and create a feeling of insecurity among the population, resulting in a disruption in personal and social life. Public Safety is the concept of governmental organizations concerned with protecting their citizens from all kinds of threats. The term ‘public safety’ covers different aspects of the protection of the general population. Some of these include Protection against Accidents and Trauma, Protection against Crimes, Protection against Natural Hazards. Thus, the objectivity of the government is the Protection and sustenance of public safety. Thus, if there are prices to be paid for this safety it should be honored by the population.


Kindig, T; The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America; 1776; Web.

Green, Heather; Databases and Security vs. Privacy; BusinessWeek: New York; 2001. Web.

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Dershowitz, Alan M; Why Fear National ID Cards; 2001. Web.

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