Las Vegas Sun

April 1, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

The Pandora’s box of safety

Americans are at far greater risk of being victims of local crime than we are from a terrorist attack. If we justify government tracking of individual Americans’ phone and Internet activities to keep us safer from terrorists, shouldn’t we expand the use of that data to allow the government to protect us from domestic crime?

We’re currently nowhere near the situation George Orwell envisioned in his book “1984,” but we’re clearly going in that direction. And once you decide that you’re OK with the government being able to look at every aspect of your life, in hopes of making a tiny reduction in the already slim chance that you’ll be a terror victim, how do you decide where to stop?

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  1. Many Americans, both Liberal and Conservative, were unhappy with aspects of the Patriot Act. They were also in shock and scared, after 9/11. That was completely understandable, given what we had suffered. Few people, out of the total were making much noise against the Patriot Act. To argue otherwise is to re-write history.

    The question for each of us now is, whatever justification is used, just how much of our freedom and privacy are we willing to give up in exchange for 'possibly' some greater measure of safety and security?

    As I usually do, I'd rather focus on the task at hand than argue over how much one group or another fought against the Patriot Act.


  2. Anti, it's true that privacy isn't a big deal for a lot of people. But some people's willingness to share personal information on Facebook doesn't justify the government's tracking records of all Americans. The banks and credit card companies track the business you do with them, so you always have choice not to. But the biggest difference is that Facebook, the credit card company and the bank may annoy you with their marketing, but they don't have the power to toss you in jail and (under the NDAA) hold you without charge or trial.


  3. There's a very simple equation : FS=k. For those who don't like that format, it means F (freedom) times S (security) equals a constant value call it "200". What's it mean? That the ONLY way to get more freedom is to accept less security. Alternatively, the ONLY way to get more security is to accept less freedom. So, if F=20 and S = 10, then 20 times 10 = 200. Increase S (Security) to 20, then k (the constant) will be unchanged at 200 and F (Freedom) MUST fall to 10: 10 times 20 -200.

  4. Anti,

    Actually, (and this may be shocking to some young people) you don't have to use email or cell phones. Not that long ago there was a world where people went through their entire life without email or a cell phone.

    We choose to take advantage of these conveniences and we have the choice to accept that we will give up some privacy. Those who are concerned about privacy have choices that are less traceable. There are also alternatives to keeping money in banks. Again, we have a choice, and since the level of intrusiveness is relatively minimal, we mostly choose to use the banks. But with government tracking, we have no choice and, more importantly, the potential for misuse is far greater.