How can security be achieved without affecting individual privacy? - Essay Prowess

How can security be achieved without affecting individual privacy?


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How can security be achieved without affecting individual privacy?


The contemporary globalization processes have brought about an emergence of diverse global risks which are coming to light as being potentially and equally threatening as is the pace of globalization. We are now living in a risk society where the said risk do not target individuals but societies. Such risks arise from the amalgamation of objective aspects such as the global character of agents as well as tools employed and the subjective aspects which are relative to social perspectives of particular events as being potential risks coupled with the dynamics changing the public perceptive of security. This amalgamation has made governments to be proactive in the employment of novel security strategies, policies, and technologies. Indeed, public understandings of new security features have emerged as a global standard for guiding and assessing government action. This essay will look into the dilemma that has surfaced with respect to privacy and security. The idea in of public scrutiny and participation in implementation of new security based technologies is seen as vital in reducing the gap between personal privacy and the need for a secure society.


The September 11 attacks on US soil as well as the terror attacks that were registered thereafter brought about a significant increase in the political significance of internal security. This propagated the development of novel security strategies and concepts which caused a dramatic shift in the balance that existed with regard to security and the upholding of human freedoms as well as rights (Pavone & Pereira, 2009). In the US and Europe, people have witnessed the development and institutionalization of innovative technologies employed to enhance security measures with the purported aim of enhancing the security of citizens in these regions. A quagmire arises as to the need for optimizing surveillance on citizens and the infringing of personal privacy. This presentation seeks to answer to the question as to how security be achieved without affecting individual privacy.

The aspect of individual privacy has not gone well with many people in the affected regions as these personal freedoms and rights are guaranteed in most countries’ constitutions. Governments on the other hand have appeared to be heavy handed in adopted security policies with the sole aim of enhancing security of the society at the detriment of individual privacy. This has not gone down well with many citizens and democratic governments have been encouraged to address issues of personal freedom in a more inclusive manner. As this presentation insists, there is significance in involving public scrutiny and input in the formulation of security measures to ensure the individual in society does not feel unnecessarily aggrieved by the actions of the security apparatus employed.



On an individual level, there are a number of needs assumed to influence personal motivations and by extension personal behaviors. One can mention at least eight human necessities, which are basic to a healthy mind. These are; need of consistent response from others; stimulation; security, social recognition such that their response to social interaction is appreciated; distributive justice, rationality with respect to the behavioral response from others, need for deduced meaning from a certain consistent response as well as the need to have some degree of control (Aquilina, 2010).


These needs are not in any means exhaustive as there are many schools of thought, which promote centrality of specific, need systems. This may include, need for a sense of belonging, social bonds, need to be regarded as to making meaningful contributions, and the need for transcendence (Hallinan, Friedewald & McCarthy, 2012). Personality theories are in essence differentiated through the personal motivation brought about certain needs centrality, for example, power in the central need according to Machiavelli, Narcissists call for attention and high regard as the central need while authoritarians primarily call for order as the central need (Pavone & Pereira, 2009).

Social systems also possess needs such as social needs for a commonly shared and accepted sense of social order, which calls for a set of rules adequately understood and fully respected members of such a social system. It is important to note that an ordered society is indeed a predictable society, which is basically the essence of every society (Jenkins, 2004). In a society, there is the need for a sense of solidarity among members, willingness to embrace social responsibilities, sacrifice personal needs, to sustain the welfare of other members and the need to realize a high degree of cooperation among members of the society.

Considering social systems to have the same challenges to their survival as do living things, these also have similar needs such as harmony in actions aimed at achieving mutual objectives, defense and the aptitude to evolve in an effort to adapt to challenging changes in novel external and internal situations (Hallinan, Friedewald & McCarthy, 2012). This narrows down to the ever present aspect of motivation and more so the issue of transforming and directing personal impulses for collective and distinct social goal attainment such as adhering to work ethic in a market economy.

2.1 A new security dispensation

Scholars have in the past pointed out that globalization especially with the end of the epic Cold War would lead to an increase in global risks growing at roughly the same pace as the development of globalization processes. This resulted in a political, ethical, and moral debate delving into the correlations between individual privacy and security and more so, on the technology employed for security purposes. The balance sustained between privacy and security was argued to be delicate such that an increase in the level of security translated to a decrease in the level of privacy accrued by any single individual citizen (Dutton, Guerra, Zizzo & Peltu, 2005). Conversely, the quick adoption of new technology dedicated to security has essentially resulted in bypassing of the necessary scrutiny by democratic institutions as well as having little or no public participation on such endeavors (Aquilina, 2010). This has the implication of either focusing the expected technocratic outcomes or the probability of moving into an authoritarian form of governance.

2.2 Risk Society

According to the available literature material, societies in the west have made new head way into a new phase of modernity referred to as self-reflexive modernity. This has come about as a new sense of enlightenment has due to the radical nature that has engulfed modernity. The radical nature of the traditional modernity has resulted in a rather hazy border between what can be regarded as quantifiable risk, which can be predicted and mitigated, and non-quantifiable risks, which are in a global scale (Lyon & Haggerty, 2012). Non-quantifiable risks include changes in ecosystems, volatility of financial markets, and the threat of terrorism.

As such, institutions in the modern society such as the state, welfare system, and the basic family unit as well as basic societal principles such as security and control, rationality and science and exploitation of natural resources (Pavone & Pereira, 2009). The differences between the above institutions and principles have been put to questioning more so by the global expansion and the growth of the concept of individualization. Individualization is what has brought about a reflexive state with regard to modernity whereby the society is increasingly coming to term with the fact that it is impossible to attain mastery in any one given discipline (Lyon & Haggerty, 2012).

Globalization is effectively wiping out borders thereby bringing about a re-evaluation of what roles and limits that nations have and individualization is bringing rise to the dissolving of established welfare systems as well as eroding thither to accepted systems of collective living. Risks have increased where risk in this context is man made since they are a result of human decisions and actions. A risk society is faced with such risks that tend not to appear at the expected place or time with regard to whence they were first recognized (Aquilina, 2010). These risks arise from environmental changes, technologic gadgets, financial markets, and security threats which are not easily identifiable or observable. As such, in this kind of a society people are informed of these risks by the media, experts or in political debates.

The September 11th attacks brought about a reaction that was twofold in nature as it brought about changes in technical terms and practices more so with regard to democracy and security (Pavone & Pereira, 2009). The event in a very big way actualized global threat a risk that could not be clearly detected and mitigated. Global threat was then essentially externalized by western societies while their internal structures political and social were transformed to accommodate the threat as being universally present in such societies (Hallinan, Friedewald & McCarthy, 2012). As such the enemy propagating terrorism was perceived as being everywhere that is, within national boundaries, among all nationals and in such a diverse setting that localization of global threat is impossible. This led to the redefinition of what entails security, democracy, and politics.

At one hand when the world realized the graveness of the terrorist threat the role of government came into play again that is to ensure national security was not in any means compromised (Xiao & Tao, 2006). Conversely, it led to an increased level of cooperation among countries in western societies as they united to fight a common enemy, terrorism. This also led to the redefining of national boundaries bringing about some degree of merger between the national security apparatus and foreign policy departments (Pavone & Pereira, 2009).

The most drastic of outcomes was borderline defining innocent and guilty was totally smudged such that all citizens were considered as potential threats to national security. At this point, security and personal privacy got to be at opposite ends where citizens were left with the option to either root for a secure society or opt for personal privacy at the expense of security guarantees. There was also an unprecedented change in the priorities of government institutions with security taking prevalence at the expense of other roles that government is supposed to adhere to (Hallinan, Friedewald & McCarthy, 2012). This role that government is supposed to be committed to playing is the enabling and preservation of institutions that ensure that democratic maxims are adhered to and individual rights upheld. Another change that occurred was the mindset that technology was the only way with which the terrorist threat could be detected essentially overshadowing the above roles of government.

Governments are applying the rationality principle to seek solutions to the question of terrorist threats. They have opted to employ technology to address the issue of security within national boundaries (Sarma, Weis & Engels, 2003). Absolute security has eluded western governments as risks have multiplied through the attempted use of pre-emptive attacks on terrorist bases the world over (Jenkins, 2004). This has led to the adoption of increased surveillance, pervasive monitoring, and tighter border controls. As such, governments have opted for the use of technological solutions in the solving of political problems. As reflexive modernity takes root in the modern societies, the application of technology is now seen as giving rise to socially problematic issues and scientific uncertainties. To minimize such outcomes, it has been proposed that there is the need for public input in broad participatory technology evaluation intended to apply scientific as well as non scientific knowledge for more reliable and inclusive decision making process.

The swift progress in communications technologies development such as biometrics, sensor technology and data analysis as well as storage has put a high degree of pressure on issue regarding fundamental rights on privacy in an economic and security perspective (Levi & Wall, 2004). The outcome of such interventions to tackle global threats within the public domain has been the integration of security enhancing technologies through public engagements. Such engagements involve the participation of the general public in evaluations of technology primarily aimed at preserving public trust, political legitimacy and more so improve on democratic accountability (Aquilina, 2010).


In the past, scientific know how has been critical in the decision making process of political institutions. As such this has in the recent past been sidelined since scientific knowledge is going through a process of redefinition. Science has been relegated from the sphere it once dictated which was to provide solutions to scientific problems (Pavone & Pereira, 2009). As such the contemporary development has been the intertwining of science with political and social deliberations.

Indeed, public policy debates have opened up avenues differing from previous traditions and moved towards non scientific methods, which call for better public participation in the wake of problems that seem to threaten democratic freedoms (Goodchild, 2007). This has led to the eventuality that public opinion and participation is crucial to social as well as political spheres with regard to the employment of new technologies more so concerning matters on security.

They security field has been one of the main areas in which prevalent risks have brought about swift policy response both at an international and national level. Such risks have come to being due to a mix of objective aspect, which involves the nature of tools and agent applied as well as subjective factors. Subjective factors include the evolving public perception on security and the risk associated with social events (Lyon & Haggerty, 2012). This has made regional and federal governments to apply novel security procedures and modern technology as well as the participation of the public in measuring democratic aptitude of governmental actions.

The universal presence of terrorist threats has brought about a phenomenon that was previously inconceivable. Active trust which has previously been necessary for democratic dispensations and more so in the economics perspective has been replaced with what is now referred to as inactive trust (Pavone & Pereira, 2009). Societies such as the European Union have singled out the prevalence of the application of security technologies without public participation as having authoritative tendencies (Aquilina, 2010).

Scholars have made extensive contributions on the complexity of interactions in security, technology, and privacy in the western societies after the September 11th attacks on US soil. It has been argued that as much as there is the employment of innovative technology with regard to security, the use of data of an inferior quality has led to a low degree of reduction in the prevalence of criminal activities (Jenkins, 2004). The interesting fact is that the threat of terrorism has essentially changed active trust and replaced it with active distrust. Active trust is essentially a key requirement in any democratic institution as well as in the economic standpoint of any country. This has brought about a debate as to the legitimacy of economics models for sociopolitical interactions.

The application of new technology has also got some challenges; firstly, the quality of collected data is poor thus bringing about a difficulty in improving the degree of reduction in crime risks. Secondly, new technology has brought about novel crimes such as identity theft, illicit navigation via flaws occurring in software systems as well as hidden financial and economic dealings (Pavone & Pereira, 2009).

  1. Conclusion

To improve on the outcomes in the employment of technology in achieving security, public participation is the best solution to ensuring that personal liberties are protected. This has been viewed as a positive approach to the question of individual privacy with the public rooting for such inputs from human rights groups, consumer organizations, and experts from diverse field as well as the input of even those who can be considered as nonprofessionals. This will essentially ensure that the technology applied in dispelling the public’s fears with regard to terror does not infringe on human freedoms and liberties accepted in a democratic system so as to rule out chances of authoritarian rule.


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