Security vs. liberty: how to measure privacy costs in domestic surveillance programs
Morgan, Samuel A.
Dahl, Erik J.
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The June 2013 disclosure that the National Security Agency collects information on U.S. citizens revived the debate over the proper balance between national security and civil liberties. Central to the conversation is the concept of privacy. If the government is going to collect intelligence on individuals in order to defeat terrorism, then it must penetrate the veil of privacy. The outcome of the security versus privacy debate relies on three main factors: 1) the nature of the threat; 2) the effectiveness of intelligence methods taken by the government to counter that threat; and 3) the effect those intelligence efforts have on Americans' privacy. Although imprecise and controversial, methods for measuring the threat and the effectiveness of intelligence efforts against that threat exist in various forms. It does not appear, however, that the impact of surveillance on privacy is measured in any useful way. This thesis addresses the problem of measuring privacy costs by examining the following questions: What elements of government surveillance programs and privacy expectations must be taken into account? What level of domestic surveillance is acceptable to the American public? And finally, how can we measure the cost of privacy to better inform the security versus liberty debate?
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