Privacy vs. Security: a bogus debate?

Thursday, 6 June 2002, 10:43 AM EST

David Brin is a privacy heretic. He doesn't agree with those in the intelligence and law-enforcement communities who argue that Americans have to surrender freedoms to make their lives safe. Nor does he agree with advocates who argue that it makes sense to protect privacy at all costs - certainly not if it means living with added insecurity.

As Brin sees it, security and privacy shouldn't be construed as rivals: Instead, he says, everyone will be safer if the government knows a lot - within reason - about its citizens, and if Americans know a lot more than they do now about how the government uses their information.

Brin may be provocative, but he's not crazy. A PhD in space physics and sci-fi author, Brin argues that security is advanced by openness rather than secrecy. Many of his views are laid out in his 1998 book about privacy The Transparent Society. The march of increasingly intrusive technology is unstoppable, he reasons, so why fight it?

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