PRIVACY vs SECURITY

Issue

Encryption might enable absolute privacy but national security must be allowed to prevail. The problem lies in our government's definition of national security. However, access to private information is essential to keeping citizens safe.

In fact, there are cases where the authorities should be able to access encrypted data, like the California case which developed between Apple and the FBI over the San Bernardino shooting suspect's smartphone messages.

A war is being waged on multiple fronts as a record number of prosecutions are developing for disclosing information; alleged eavesdropping on journalists’ communications and suing a journalist to reveal a source.

Meanwhile, US government officials have prosecuted several individuals for allegedly revealing or mishandling classified information. In a Fourth Circuit case, the US Justice Department under George W. Bush and Barack Obama repeatedly subpoenaed New York Times reporter James Risen to learn the source of information in a chapter of his 2006 book, “State of War.” The chapter’s focus was Risen’s description of a CIA attempt to give Iran a flawed design for a nuclear weapon.

Government officials believe a former CIA agent was the source of the information, which was classified. Only two people can prove who disclosed it. The agent, who has a right not to incriminate himself, and the journalist, who may or may not have a constitutional right to protect his source.

CITY IMAGES has asked a former high-ranking US government official who has defended domestic eavesdropping programs to weigh in, but so far he has not responded.