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Where is the Line Between Security and Privacy Since the Paris Attacks?


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After the phones used prior to the attacks in Paris were retrieved, many questions about the balance between security and privacy were raised. It has been said that the French government had been unaware of Mr Abaaoud, one of the masterminds behind the affair, having returned to Europe as there was no digital trail to back it up.

Police can share information and have access to some important data but the question is should they be able to access even more? If the texts had been intercepted could it all have been avoided? Of course now all that can be done is figure out ways of enhancing security without trespassing our privacy too much. There is a fine line but if it can prevent further attacks do we think it is necessary? Then there is the question of the information being shared properly. Perhaps we don't need access to more information, just share the data that we already have.

When these questions are raised, the reaction of the various countries are going to be different. After the Edward Snowden scandal, it is obvious that the limits to how much data can be retrieved or spied on are definite. But warrants can be issued for more private data research and France is one of the governments to allow even more flexibility in doing so. This was changed after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo back in January. On the 20th November a rule was decided upon to allow sharing of Passenger Name Record of anyone travelling to, from or in Europe. More data will be shared also of fighters going between Syria and Europe. All of this is to allow more access to information that could prevent more attacks.

One massive problem that makes it all that bit more difficult is the encryption of messages. Even the NSA are incapable of understanding some codes. John Brennan, director the CIA said it is 'exceptionally difficult both technically and legally' to intercept the messages between ISIS and their new recruits. It always comes back to how much they are actually allowed to spy on. This line between privacy and security is right there and they have to respect it. There was even suspicion before the Paris attacks by Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon that communication was happening between the members of the terrorist groups on games consoles, 'Playstation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp'. With this it seems to be an even more complicated job than it used to. The development of technology is actually allowing more hidden communication than before and anonymity is another huge factor in all of this. Various solutions are being proposed, one of which would be for encryption companies to give their programs some weakness which would allow codes to be cracked if needed. Others want technology firms to record all messages and data sent from clients. However, some big technology firms including Apple and Microsoft are arguing that reducing security to enhance security makes no sense. 

It looks like this whole security debate is going to take a while to settle down and I suppose until then we have to expect a few changes in our privacy terms. No one wants their personal lives exposed, but I can understand why access to some data could be useful. As long as it isn't being abused I don't see why it shouldn't happen. Of course in the meantime it is important to make sure we are not being exposed illegally but the different governments are trying their best to come up with a solution that will suit every one of them. In some countries you have to provide information when buying a smartphone but nothing is released to the authorities neither unofficially nor unnecessarily. This is not the case in Britain but Belgium are strongly considering banning the purchase of SIM cards without any form of identification. Nigeria and Bangladesh are also taking serious measures when it comes to buying SIM cards, ensuring people are properly registered to that particular one. In fact Nigeria fined a mobile phone company as they were supposedly responsible for providing the jihadist group with mobile devices.

Serious measures are being taken and I think it's safe to say that for a little while at least we are all going to need to understand that our privacy may be at risk. But if it means getting on top of this whole issue, do we think it might be worth it? 



One of the newest members of The SMF Group. Although she loves a good city life, she grew up in the beautiful French countryside. Who knew that talking to a bunch of cows and friendly chickens would get her here? Quite used to writing stories in her bedroom, she is now deciding if she's cut out for content writing. We'll see! Follow her @SophieAtSMF


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Where is the Line Between Security and Privacy Since the Paris Attacks? Reviewed by Sophie Giscard on Thursday, December 03, 2015 Rating: 5

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