DEBATE WORKSHOPS 2000

Resolved: That the United States federal government should significantly increase protection of privacy in the United States in one or more of the following areas:

EMPLOYMENT, MEDICAL RECORDS, CONSUMER INFORMATION, SEARCH AND SEIZURE.


Affirmative Case

Case #1: 
Repeal laws that centralize and universalize government data collection


Case #2: 
Privatize Social Security


Case #3: Deregulate strong encryption


Case#4:
Protecting Medical Privacy with Medical IRAs


 

Four affirmative cases are outlined with suggestions for further research for the privacy topic. Follow the links below to the general introduction to the case areas and to the specific cases.

Introduction and Overview

The media regularly reports how Americans fear for their privacy. In a recent survey, 80 percent reported that they worry about what happens to information collected about them. We hear that much of this concern stems from the a growing reliance on computers and the Internet for shopping, banking, entertainment, and a host of other transactions once made on a face-to-face basis. We are warned that powerful Web technologies make it easier than ever for businesses to collect information about our comings and goings in cyberspace, making us increasingly vulnerable to intrusions on our privacy by aggressive marketers or even criminals.

Polls reveal less about public attitudes than observations of their actual behavior. There is little evidence that fears about privacy have slowed people's actual use of the Internet. The Justice Department has used the growth of cybercrime to justify high-tech investigation techniques by law enforcement and to fuel their campaign to regulate Internet-related technologies such as strong encryption.

The strongest fears about privacy loss may not be related to the growth of e-commerce and cybercrime, as debaters of the privacy topic will do well to recognize early on. Instead, it is intrusions by government itself that play a major, if less publicized, role in diminishing individual privacy. Government's census-taking efforts this year and polls indicating that most people don't trust that their census data will be kept confidential1 (despite laws to the contrary) signal a distrust of government's ability to respect privacy.

Government and our privacy

For many reasons people have much more reason to be concerned about invasions of their privacy by the state than by private businesses and organizations.

Paranoia or Perspective?

These changes in public attitudes toward government control are easier to recognize when placed in historical perspective. Consider the enormous popular resistance President Roosevelt met to the establishment of a small Social Security program for retired and disabled people in 1932. Why the opposition to a program that has since become one of the revered institutions of our society?

Notes and references

 

 
  [ Home | Search | Contribute | Contact ]

-Mail the Debate Coach
-Questions, problems to webmaster