The Great Trade-Off : Privacy vs Security

Life is full of trade-offs:

Equality or liberty.

Indulgence or longevity.

Spending or saving.

Privacy or security.

The merging of big data, big business, and big governments has brought the privacy/security trade-off to the forefront of our daily lives.

Businesses, consumers, governments, and citizens now have to make some tough choices:

Do we microchip our children – as we already do with our pets – and sacrifice their privacy to protect them against the (slim) chance that they get abducted one day?

Should we use eye-tracking software on employees (and school children) to ensure that they are being as attentive and productive as possible?

Do we monitor our citizens every move, and every purchase, the way China is moving to  with its soon-to-be mandatory Social Credit Score System? Do we submit to being tracked online – through our cell phones and smart watches – and in public places – by street cameras and police equipped with Minority Report-style smart glasses complete with facial recognition technology – in exchange for better surveillance of the criminals who walk among us?

Should we use algorithms to monitor private social media posts to predict terrorist attacks – even though even the best algorithms are mathematically more likely to flag innocent people than they are the guilty?

In short, we have to decide, as individuals, as organisations, as countries what we value more: Privacy or security. We can’t have both.

The question is, what liberties are we are willing to sacrifice in the name of security? And, is the trade-off worth the result?

 

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