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Our right to data privacy

| Friday, November 1, 2019

To whom it may concern,

On Oct. 8, 2018, it was ruled the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been illegally accessing private data of American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This gross misconduct by the FBI has been in the spotlight of the domestic intelligence world ever since Edward Snowden whistleblew about the goings on at the NSA. We find it both ironic and appalling how the government not only has the ability to steal our data, but wants to stop companies, such as Facebook, from creating end-to-end encryption on their messaging platforms. We have a right to privacy by law and the only way the government should be allowed to search either our homes or data is with a warrant.

Now, of course, the FBI should prevent crime and acts of terror if they are able to, but you do not need a “back-door” into the entire country’s private messages to do so. One of the many ridiculous points brought up by government officials is “[strong encryption] puts our citizens and societies at risk by severely eroding a company’s ability to detect and respond to illegal content and activity, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse, terrorism,” as Australian politician Peter Dutton put it. Criminal acts on minors can be prevented in many other ways besides breaking the Fourth Amendment. It is insane how these government agencies try to scare us into falling for their tricks by using our children. Thankfully, Facebook’s Antigone Davis, the firm’s global head of safety, gave a number of ways the company could maintain the privacy of their users and prevent communication between minors and potential predators in the first place, according to a report from the Financial Times. “[Davis] said Facebook could look at user profiles and flag someone making a series of requests to minors they do not know, or people who are part of suspicious groups. She added that the company could also scan photographs for comments to flag patterns of bad behavior,” the report said.

This shows that tech firms often know how to monitor their own systems and users’ activities better than government officials uneducated in the technological systems and companies that they are criticizing. We believe that it is important to trust the firms to proactively monitor and combat illegal activity occurring on their platform, as economic incentives cause them to do so. No one will want to use a platform that they know is corrupted, easily hackable and not secure, so a firm like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others will want to make sure their system is as safe as it can be. Do not trust government officials who time and time again prove that they are not fully educated on the issues they wish to build legislature on, and allow citizens and companies to keep their information private and confidential.

Thank you for considering our opinion.

Michael Havighorst


Shane Johnson



Oct. 18

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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