With the 2016 presidential race heating up, the ongoing debate of national
security and data collection vs. civil liberties has once again taken
center stage. Following the December 15, 2015 GOP debate,
Attorney Ian Friedman spoke with
Cleveland Jewish News about the Republican field's take on the issue.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly every GOP candidate spoke favorably about
increasing data collection and largely put aside prominent national concerns
of citizen civil liberties. Still, Attorney Friedman found the GOP talking
points vague and, in some cases, inaccurate. "My instinct was that
the speakers on stage were politicians just speaking politics," Friedman
told the paper. "My feeling was they really didn’t understand
what they were speaking about."
He also pointed out that, with the laws in place now (including the recent
USA Freedom Act), the government has the tools and reach it needs to identify
and confront internal threats to national security through social media,
secret warrants, and other federal authorities. "What they (the Republicans)
want to do is be able to go into everybody’s digital closets and
hope that one turns up criminal evidence," he said. "That’s
a tough pill to swallow for people who today house their most intimate
of affairs online."
The Candidates’ Responses
When it came to each candidate's individual response on the issue,
each had their own angle on why data collection needs to be expanded and
how it could be done. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina suggested
that more compliance from Silicon Valley, not new laws, was the answer.
Senator Marco Rubio criticized the US Freedom Act for ending bulk collection
of phone metadata. Governor Kasich invoked the San Bernardino shooting
to insist that encrypted communication was still the most important hurdle
in monitoring citizen communication.
Attorney Friedman remained, however, adamant that popular GOP sentiment
of "if you have a terrorist, you have nothing to hide," was
woefully misguided. "It’s absolutely not true," Friedman
said. "People need to understand that when they allow the government
greater ability under the guise of national security, you’re giving
up your right to privacy and individual liberty, no question about that."
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