Sunday, 11 August 2013

Privacy vs. National Security

The concept of democracy and the characteristics of a republic are traditionally expected to give immense power to the people who are fortunate enough to subscribe to them in their respective countries. To be able to exercise that power should not be taken for granted and definitely not be exploited. Today, almost every nation- state in the world is threatened by many coexisting elements; terrorism, sectarianism, separatism, regionalism etc., all of which are not obstructed by borders but instead, are contagious transnationally. This has ushered in an era of global terrorism. Duly elected governments invest a lot in their defense capacities to protect its people from these threatening agents. And in this regard man has come a long way from ballistic missile to WMDs to drones and most recently, PRISM!

The debates on non-proliferation and disarmament have been on the loop for decades but the rhetoric has hardly conceptualized into concrete steps. Of course these are positive steps that must pro-actively be worked upon by engaging in regular talks among the consortium of nations. The idea behind disarmament is simple, it is to limit the possibility of wars and violence. But, human nature as we know does not allow these positive steps to become a reality so conveniently. So every developing or developed nation is engrossed in accumulating and procuring more and more weapons according to their respective reasons. If the states are legitimately procuring so are the agents of terror and mass destruction albeit, illegitimately. For any nation, the threat from these surreptitious transnational agents of terror is much more blatant than one coming from an internationally recognized state. Since the channels of diplomacy and reconciliation are not easily comprehended by these terrorist organizations, their actions have to be and must be intercepted by the state.

Today almost all powerful countries have mechanisms to restrict these anti-social elements likely to affect their territory. The idea is land, air, or water, wherever you see the peril, intercept and counter it.  It only becomes logical in the wake of today’s technology that if a government can, then it must get into the laptops, tablets or phones of the suspects and be a step ahead of them in order to crush them down. The mechanism that the NSA uses to collect its information on the suspected incendiaries should be a welcome step, albeit, the authority that uses these mechanism comes out clean in front of its people and is further guided by a code of conduct in association with other countries of the globe (since this mechanism it uses is infringing with the territorial boundary of other countries) that share the same objective of fighting terrorism.

Privacy is a part of social security and social security can only possibly be provided if the state itself is secured from clandestine attacks. Terrorism has affected each and every part of the globe and remains the top most concern for every administration. Transparency is a very contentious issue when it comes to national security. But in so far as the snooping by NSA is concerned, U.S. must come out proactively to bind its intelligence agency under a legalized code of conduct with adequate transparency to pacify its citizens and furthermore share its information and cooperate with the other countries who do not have the advantage of accessing servers of the popular internet companies. If used ethically and collaboratively this measure can be a huge advantage for the countries afflicted by terrorism. US proclaims to be fighting global terrorism and it must be pressed by the international community to open up the avenues for collective action against common global terrorists.

-  Nitish Bhardwaj

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