Security or privacy? I choose security

Alexandra Stettner

Alexandra Stettner
Alexandra Stettner

Here’s an unpopular opinion: I don’t mind the U.S. government spying on us for security purposes.

I’m someone who will reiterate time and time again that “I have nothing to hide.” I understand that most would agree with me on that. A very small percentage of us have something to hide and would be thoughtless enough to talk or text about it over the phone. However, many still argue that it is the principle of the government violating our privacy they care about, as well as how quickly a government can run away with power. After all, if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile.


After the infamous National Security Agency leaks  from Edward Snowden, the general consensus seemed to be all-out anguish from the public toward the government for invading their privacy, a widespread mistrust that rivaled the Pentagon Papers. Conversation about a “right to privacy” and our civil liberties as citizens consumed the media. No real event occurred to cause the discussion to die down, but nonetheless, eventually it became less prevalent in the news. Yet, with the recent Sony Pictures hacks and talks about future threats and the fundamentals of war changing, the security issue is more important than ever.

While I believe in security over privacy, I realize there is a fine line between acquiring information for defense and becoming a world out of George Orwell’s “1984.” If the information being acquired isn’t being used effectively, then obviously the government shouldn’t be using spy tactics on ordinary citizens. Reports have stated that most of the NSA spying tactics have proved unsuccessful, or at least not as successful as it should be based on the amount of information they are getting.

But if the government was able to expand their effectiveness, then their desire for that information would be understandable and justified.

More than anything, I want to make sure the government has the proper regulations in place to be sure they are not taking that extra mile. Creating regulations and oversight committees, that are unbiased and effective, and as soon as possible, is the best way to set a future precedent for the way we would like things to be.

There is no hiding from the government at this point in technology’s evolution. We cannot expect 100 percent privacy going into the future. It is just not realistic. As the public, we need to follow through on what President Obama was asking for when he asked for a public conversation about privacy and safety. We need to decide what we are OK with, what we aren’t and where we want to draw the lines.

I am not comfortable with the government having all of my information for nothing, but if it can help in the slightest for security purposes, I am happy to contribute my texts to friends about the new season of “House of Cards.” In the bigger picture, national security and preventing attacks is a far better alternative to resting on our principles, and for those to ultimately be our downfall.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at or on Twitter @alexstetts.