What Our Top Spy Doesn’t Get: Security and Privacy Aren’t Opposites

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Security expert Bruce Schneier notes that what “our top spy” — Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell — doesn’t “get” when he says “Privacy and security are a zero-sum game,” is that Security and Privacy Aren’t Opposites:

I’m sure they have that saying in their business. And it’s precisely why, when people in their business are in charge of government, it becomes a police state. If privacy and security really were a zero-sum game, we would have seen mass immigration into the former East Germany and modern-day China. While it’s true that police states like those have less street crime, no one argues that their citizens are fundamentally more secure.

I suppose an economist would say that we don’t have to trade privacy for security unless we’re on an efficient frontier — and we’re clearly not trading off the least privacy for the most security right now.

Leave a Reply