Since there aren’t many ACT practice essay prompts yet, we thought we would write one, to add to the pool of what’s available:
PRIVACY VS. SECURITY
Many governments will ask their citizens to give up a certain amount of freedom in return for the security that comes from being a part of a larger community. Most rights come with some degree of restriction and/or limitations: there are age-limitations (that vary by state) on obtaining a driver’s license, earning the right to vote and purchasing alcohol. Clearly certain rights and freedoms that are only granted once a certain minimum age has been reached. Under certain circumstances, many of these privileges can be revoked: a driver’s license may be suspended if someone has had collisions with bicycles or pedestrians, if there’s been a failure to maintain insurance, or if they’ve been found to be driving under the influence. Thus, there is clearly a necessary balance that must be maintained between personal freedoms and the greater good. In the case of privacy vs. security, the government must weigh the degree to which securing general welfare might be better achieved via the restriction or governance of certain personal freedoms. In light of new terrorist threats, the government ought to maintain an increased amount of surveillance on all of its citizens.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens and their properties and papers against “unreasonable” searches and seizures. Thus, the government cannot simply surveil its populace by reading citizen emails or recording everyday conversations.
Just as surveillance and security protocols at airports have increased in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, too much government scrutiny of suspects’ private emails, phone calls and other activities would be a net loss. Maintaining security for the greater good must remain the top priority of any government. While the US Constitution offers its citizenry the right to life, liberty and happiness, all of these become moot without some measure of security.
The balance between privacy and security is a delicate one. Tighter security measures, though technically intended to assure the greater good, might target specific ethnic or religious groups without some amount of governance and additional regulation. Until some measure of due process can be brought to the idea of greater government surveillance, electronic surveillance is merely a technological version of illegal search and seizure.