How Much Does a “Privacy” Weigh?

Author
Paul Rosenzweig
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal
Fletcher Security Review
Volume
6
Issue Number
1
Publication Date
Summer 2019
Institution
The Fletcher School, Tufts University
Abstract
Benjamin Franklin is famous, in part, for having said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Though historical evidence suggests Franklin’s quote has been misinterpreted,[1] the aphorism has come to stand for the proposition that privacy and security stand in opposition to each other, where every increase in security likely results in a commensurate decrease in privacy, and vice versa. ​ Couched in those terms, the privacy/security trade-off is a grim prospect. We naturally want both privacy and security to the greatest extent possible. But Franklin tells us this is impossible — that privacy and security are locked in a zero-sum game where the gain of one comes only at the loss of the other. ​ Of course, this characterization is assuredly flawed; it is certainly possible to adopt systems that maximize both privacy and security in a Pareto optimal way. That is one of the reasons why so many privacy and security experts simply revile the “balancing” metaphor — it obscures more than it illuminates... ​
Topic
Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Privacy
Political Geography
Global Focus, United States of America