September 11: An Attack on Privacy and Civil Liberties Essay

1917 Words8 Pages
Abstract: On September Eleventh, terrorists attacked more than the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania. They also attacked American ideologies and feelings of security that hundreds of years had built. Before these tragedies occurred, Americans viewed themselves as individuals and cherished the remnants of their individual lives that technology had not stolen from them. Now Americans are coming together in mourning, and, in the process, changing their views on the individual and the balance between privacy and security. This paper looks at how America has changed its stance on the privacy debate.

The target of the hijackers September eleventh was not the World Trade Center nor was it the Pentagon or the White
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Since September 11th, due to the use of powerful cryptography to hide the planning the terrorist actions, America has dropped its views of privacy technology as a defense against an intrusive government. Instead, it appears that all of American society is now ready to allow many infringements of civil liberties in order to create a false sense of security.

Over the past few years, the development of the Internet and the intrusive surveillance capabilities of these technologies have caused privacy to become a major political and social issue for millions of Americans who go online. Companies employ a variety of tools to gather marketable information on American citizens. Most of the use of this information is for personalized advertisement and to create databases of target audiences. While these activities may appear to be nothing more than annoyances for a majority of Americans, there is the hidden danger of the loss of privacy.

National polls taken before the events of September 11th revealed that the possibility of entities abusing the technological system in place and the possible exploitation of this loss of privacy frightened Americans a few months ago. According to the survey, a vast majority of Americans, nearly 84% a year ago, were concerned about businesses or individuals gathering information on themselves or family members and 54% of Americans considered themselves "very concerned"[2]. Americans were

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