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Snowden espouses about data ethics and privacy

Kacy Zurkus | Oct. 23, 2015
As devices become more interconnected and big data reveals more about private lives and daily habits, many wonder what the future holds for privacy.

Robert Litt, second general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the intelligence community is made up of people who care about their privacy as well. They have families and personal lives that they too do not want invaded by the watchful eye of government surveillance.

“I don’t think anyone would disagree on the value of privacy, but it’s never been an absolute. The principle goal of the government is to protect its people from hostile powers,” said Litt who also recognized that the current problem for the national intelligence community is that, “we are in a zero tolerance environment.”

Perhaps that is true, and if Crawford is correct in arguing for discussions about ethics in data collection, then the dialogue needs to be open and free-flowing on both sides.  In order to get out of the emotional rut caused by technology in surveillance, society needs to move beyond the negative focus on the awful things the intelligence community can do.

Litt said rather than asking, “How can we protect ourselves against the NSA?” people need to be asking, “How can technology give us assurances that powers aren’t being abused?”

The answer to that question will come from updating and implementing ethical codes of conduct that protect privacy and security without compromising one for the other.


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