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Public Safety vs. Personal Data Privacy

Society has become almost completely reliant on virtual channels in the last couple of decades. We communicate, make transactions and gather information virtually. With this being the case, law enforcement authorities have strived to record and monitor citizens’ online communication in an attempt to prevent potential crimes. But to what extent should law enforcement agencies have access to our private encrypted messages? What about private companies? Does data privacy exist?

Millennial Minute host Julia Sun sat down with political strategist Ajay Bruno and author Ben Pring to discuss this topic. While they had different perspectives, they saw eye to eye on one thing: We’re too careless with our data. Watch the full debate here.

Government surveillance

Should the government be able to surveil and record citizens’ private messages? According to Bruno, it depends. In regard to terrorism, Bruno believes if the government had today’s abilities back in 2001, the 9/11 attacks could’ve been prevented. But he thinks the government should only be able to access this information in the most extreme cases. “Other than that, we risk becoming a police state”, he said.

Pring, co-writer of “Monster: A Tough Love Letter On Taming the Machines that Rule our Jobs, Lives, and Future,” believes we are already living in a police state. Law enforcement agencies have broad access to a lot of our information, and he believes that personal privacy should be prioritized over government surveillance.

Public awareness

Both guests agreed that most people are not careful enough with their data. There is mass social unawareness of data privacy. People don’t care about where their data goes. Bruno and Pring believe privacy standards have not been specifically outlined. “We need to put in place a way of valuating the data we’re giving in these transactions”, Pring told Bold TV. 

Most people have very little idea about how the government and companies use our data. And this debate over digital privacy is too complicated to define with a simple “yes or no” answer. Law enforcement agencies should have the tools necessary to be able to minimize crime, but how much access is too much?

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