Reed Hundt calls for alternatives to framing surveillance issues in terms of privacy versus security, but the hard fact is that we cannot avoid tradeoffs. We have to assume that at least some surveillance programs do thwart plots and save lives. That leads to a hard question: whether we as a society will preserve privacy knowing that innocent people will die. Will we trade some lives for some privacy? At times, the answer to that question should be yes.
Hundt’s proposals reflect the dangers of not posing hard questions. He offers three solutions for reconciling privacy and security: greater transparency, enabling American citizens to take privacy into their own hands, and ensuring that the collection and use of data is governed by the rule of law. His first and third solutions are too vague to guide policy: all sides can agree on some level of transparency, privacy, and rule of law. He doesn’t provide solutions to the challenges of implementation, such as how to respond to Tor, a technology that protects democracy activists and terrorists alike, or offer a principle that would help us make that decision.
Read Marvin's full piece at the Boston Review.