Security and freedom in the digital age
Governments want to have access to digital personal data, while companies in technology sector and non-profit organisations want to protect the human right of privacy. After the spying of citizens and politicians around the world by the US National Security Agency (NSA), a debate about the balance between national security, privacy and freedom will certainly intensify in the United States.
More recently, the debate focused on encryption: The issue is to develop the technology which enables companies to develop programs that will encrypt their users’ messages in order to protect them with big security systems that no one other than the recipient could have access. Do they have the permission to develop this kind of technologies of security so that even a government could not have access to civil and personal data? This is the real question whose response could determine the future of civil society.
The security services of the US government are opposed to the full encryption of data. The US government says that the country will be less secure if the authorities aren’t able to have access to the civil and personal data. A large coalition of technology companies and civil society organizations recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama opposing “backdoors” that permits access to civil data.
In fact, the argument of the technology companies is the protection of the sustainability of the global digital ecosystem. These companies know that even if they are in the US, at the same time they are global players and they have corporate responsibilities with a global impact.
Another example of the management of civil data protection is in France. The country’s electronic monitoring services -the French equivalent of NSA- will have access to a wide range of high-tech tools in order to identify terrorists. Practically this means that the secret services of the country will be legally able to monitor private data and suspect involvement in terrorist organizations. France followed the model of US efforts to boost the monitoring service and espionage after the attack of “Charlie Hebdo” like the US did after the 11 September.
Despite the modernizing character that the French prime Minister attempts to give to the new monitoring methods, human rights organizations protested against this law and criticize it as a French “Big Brother”.
The National security policies must include the protection of privacy and freedom of expression. The problem is that it is difficult to identify limits and practices in such an unexplored world as the digital world…