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Privacy & Security, a government dilemma

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Cybercrime is increasingly becoming a menace in the world today. Privacy & Security a government dilemma: Cybersecurity is a big concern for governments as opposed to individual users on the cyberspace. Ominous threats to the government may not trigger a similar alarm level for the public that might see them as small inconveniences.  

The enactment of internet regulations to address cybersecurity is met by huge resistance from different sectors. The general feeling is that legislation affects internet users in fundamental ways and infringes on their privacy. People would rather live with disruptions caused by cybercrime but keep their privacy and anonymity on the internet. 

Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have sought expanded mandates to investigate and prosecute internet crime. One reason given is that advancements in information networks and digital communication have complicated law enforcement. For example, encryption is no longer a preserve of government and businesses. Criminals are encoding their records and communications as well. Legislation to address existing and emerging gaps have raised privacy concerns and resistance to an expanding big-brother role for government. 

The tough question is how to find a balance between government need to protect critical infrastructure and sovereignty and personal privacy needs. Technology is advancing rapidly and proving difficult to anticipate how it will affect our lives. The need to protect critical computer systems that support the economy and national defense from shutdowns and infiltration is a big concern.

Privacy & Security, a government dilemma

The debate is just beginning pitting personal privacy proponents against the government. The drafting of any cyber-security laws needs to be guided by principle.

First, technology has changed individual privacy in fundamental ways. Private information is found in the form of electronic files on computers or networks. Communications have also changed to more diverse electronic mediums with personal information is in the hands of unidentifiable third parties. 

Second, all laws must adjust to technological changes and to the effect the changes have had on the protection of privacy. A war of attrition may ensue since law enforcement agencies will want to retain and expand surveillance capability whereas the public seeks protection against the intrusion of their privacy. 

Third, the protection of critical infrastructure should be voluntary and private-sector organized rather than dictates from the government. The networks and infrastructure at risk are operated and maintained by the businesses that own them. Private sector-driven solutions will work best for the relevant industries. 

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