Home » Assymetric Warriors » Public Policy and Information Technology: The Need for Privacy Vs. Security

Public Policy and Information Technology: The Need for Privacy Vs. Security

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

The debate over cyber warfare has now risen to new levels of debate. The debate over public policy as it relates to information technology is now center stage and that is occurring in several countries around the world. While some countries brush off the right to electronic privacy, activists and privacy champions are working feverishly to maintain a reasonable level of privacy for online users. Countering their arguments are information technology security practitioners and nations cyber security experts.

What seems to get lost here is that many times, the same security practices that those on the privacy side object to, are the same technologies that detect when someone’s identity and privacy has been compromised. Additionaly, the tools and techniques that are used to commit cyber crimes are often used to attack the critical infrastructure of nations as well as to compromise the informational and operational integrity of the military and intelligence community.

There is much room for improvement on both sides of this debate. Privacy advocates should take a much harder line and become much more verbal over the cyber crime epidemic and the lack of international cooperation and collaboration needed for cyber incident investigations as well as policy and regulatory actions. The national security and law enforcement sides need to collaborate and cooperate as well. There have been multiple instances where this side knows of breaches, threats and criminal activities and that intelligence is not passed along because it is said to be “Classified.” It has been my experience that, often than not, you can pass pieces of derivate intelligence along without compromising the classified information or its source.

For some reason individuals and groups on both sides of the debate have opted for an adversarial approach about this subject. Both sides should concentrate on the true enemy here. Both sides need to give on this because it is clear what we are doing now is not working well. Cyber crime continues to grow as does cyber espionage and malicious activities that attack personal information and compromise our privacy. Finally, both sides need to put pressure on the tech sector and regulators and DEMAND harsher laws, more resources for cyber investigations, as well as new products and services that increase the integrity of their systems and safeguard sensitive information. So much more can be achieved when we work together against the common enemy rather than working against each other.


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan March 7, 2011 at 9:54 am

I don’t see anything in this argument that would appeal to the privacy side of the fence… am I missing something?


Oblat March 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Kevins marketing is designed to appeal to the criminal mentality.

The whole idea behind cyberwar is that the government becomes the biggest cybercriminal.


Kevin March 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

The privacy conversation has been all but absent in the discussions of national cyber security. Thisposting would hopefully place privacy at the table or at least a party to the discussions.


nraddin March 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

The privacy guys are not going to be helpful to Governments and cooperations until they show that they are at least nominally supporting privacy and individual rights.

Governments and cooperations have been all about fighting cyber crime as long as it effects the bottom line for themselves their business model but have so little care for the rights of the individual they are often willing to break all ethical, moral or legal guild lines there are in order to get the information they want. They don't care about you as an individual and seem to more further and further from that everyday, in the meantime they craft more and more draconian intellectual property laws and expect us to help them enforce them.

I realize that terrorism on the net is a real thing, but for most people on the net the governments and large cooperations are a bigger enemy and more likely to cause all kinds of damage than any terrorist group.


Kevin March 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

The public -private partnership must include conversations and cooperation when it comes to privacy. There is too much at risk!


nraddin March 8, 2011 at 9:56 am

sure but why would you have a conversation with the enemy in order to meet your goal. I would agree that Governments and corporations need to help keep privacy rights and there should be help coming from them. But more often than not it's governments and corporations that are the ones violating what few privacy rights we have as individuals, and seems more than willing to lobby for fewer individual rights and less privacy for individuals, while trying to keep more privacy and rights for themselves.

The governments and Corporations are the enemy of anyone that truly wants individual privacy rights. They have shown this to be true and almost every opportunity. When the day comes that governments and corporations begin taking privacy rights seriously and as part of their fundamental mission with the information they gather the problem will be fixable. Until then we have no hope.


Jeff March 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm

The privacy side is concerned with one thing: "Who will guard the guards?" The perception is that in our day to day lives the Government can step invasively in on a whim, and that if you give them the ability to do so online they will inevitably use it. Online is one of the only bastions of anonimity where people feel empowered to voice their ideas with little fear; any act empowering the Government to pry behind that curtain errodes that.

The reasons constitutions establish rights that are defined as they are, is because it is always more efficient when people don't have them. It is far eaiser to rule without naysayers and to put down unarmed rebellion. It is faster to punish with out due process. The inherent desire for efficient and swift response to anything is a constant pressure against a right. The Government can try and be as tyranical about this as they want or deem necessary, but there are many rights we have that put the country at more risk than privacy.


Jeff March 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm

At the center of the issue of privacy versus security, the real issue is the Government hasn't a clear idea of how to go about getting what it wants, policy wise, while those who favor privacy do. The Government needs to take a step forward and define the exact intent of how far it desires to go and place the necessary oversight to ensure it never overstep that.

You sell the American people a warship, or tax-cut, or a mission into space, not a shadowy and vague attempt to improve the security of infrastructure that as far as they are concerned is just as secure as it was yesterday since nothings happend. That said the policy makers job to come up with an idea and sell it.


nraddin March 8, 2011 at 10:05 am

You know there is another way to look at this. Perhaps (I personally think likely) we are really just seeing the last dying gasps of individuality, privacy and intellectual property. It will not be long before you will be able to be imitated in a way that makes it impossible for you to prove it's not you and the information you leave behind is so prevalent and easily accessed that even the things that makes you a 'individual' are more or less stripped away and enumerated. The illusion of privacy and individuality are quickly being stripped…. Weirdly I am not sure what that leaves us with exactly, but the computers will be smarter and faster than us by then anyway so I am not sure it matter much.


Oblat March 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

Look the average cyberwar consultant would sell his grandmother to the gestapo if it turned a buck.

The whole basis of cyberwar is to have an excuse to breach American privacy. That is why it attracts unsavory types such as spam email purveyors who dream of setting up a cyber-Blackwater - uncountable, fraudulent and working against basic human rights.


Soldier 123 March 9, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Exactly. That quote is merely a feable attempt at stating what needs to be and what should be as Americans, or even better yet as people. It is a simple quote that simply states that the liberties that are guarenteed to a person should not be infrindged upon at the cost of some sort of "security". That security is a flawed concept put in place to guarentee human "liberties". Any security that infringes upon a persons right as a person is not worth having.


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