Privacy vs Security – Pandemic Edition

The tension between privacy and security has been around as long as humans came up with the concepts. 9/11 was perhaps the biggest recent sea change in recent times. At least until Covid-19. This NY Times article talks about the surveillance that has escalated, in part driven by the incredible penetration of smartphones and IoT devices into society. The concept of the “greater good” is something that isn’t as core to the US as it used to be. Certainly during WW2 the country came together, and likewise after 9/11. But the US also has individualism, capitalism, and striving to compete at its core. So while massive surveillance and government action based on the data is expected in a totalitarian regime, people in the US are not quite so accepting. That said, most have willingly given up privacy in the name of convenience, so some are just now realizing the extent of the private sector’s (and by extension, government’s) reach.

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