Espionage and privacy

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The recent leaks in the news should remind us all that privacy is one of the ongoing casualties in the fight against terrorism.

President Obama wants to close the prison in Guantánamo, a symbol of the excesses of the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11 and an endless war. Yet at the same time, he has continued his predecessor’s policies relating to the monitoring of Americans’ communications. Even when the president criticized such actions during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Several recent news reports revealed that the National Security Agency receives data on a daily basis on calls made and received by millions of Verizon customers. Also reported was the existence of the Prism program, under which the government accesses information on online activity through the servers of leading internet companies.

This is very concerning, beyond the explanations of the White House, given the massive exercise in domestic espionage that it represents and the fact that this could be used at other times, and by other administrations, for unspeakable purposes.

It is true that individual privacy has already been disappearing with the aggressive actions of technology marketing that identifies customers and establishes their behavior patterns. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to the government.

Security in a democracy requires a delicate balance to avoid the constant temptation to abuse power.