Privacy and Security: A Dichotomy?

Every time the whole privacy vs security debate raises its head (like the Apple-FBI tussle), it makes me question the basis for the presumption that privacy and security need to exist at the cost of the other.

The question posed for this post is much on the same lines: Do you feel that information systems to fight terrorism should be developed and used even if they infringe on privacy rights or violate the Privacy Act of 1974 and other such statutes?

Why is there an assumption that giving up one’s privacy leads to more security? Or, to view it the other way round, does ensuring security have to involve lack of privacy?
Will letting the Government complete access to every movement of everybody, really ensure better security?

An article by Robin Koerner gives out a very interesting quote: “Either the math is wrong. Or the morality is wrong. Or both.” (“Privacy vs. Security: A False Dichotomy”).

Bruce Schneier, in is his blog post, echoes much the same sentiment and gives the examples of locked doors, burglar alarms, and tall fences to show the security and privacy can co-exist, and perhaps, should.

He further says “If you set up the false dichotomy, of course, people will choose security over privacy — especially if you scare them first. But it’s still a false dichotomy. There is no security without privacy. And liberty requires both security and privacy. ” (“Security vs. Privacy”)

I agree with this.


Koerner, R. (2014, February 3). Privacy vs. Security: A False Dichotomy. Retrieved from

Schneier, B. (2008, January 29). Security vs. Privacy. Retrieved from