Privacy v. Security v. Technology

Most people believe there are two paths to follow – the stairway to heaven or the highway to hell; the high road or the low road; life or death.  In many cases, this can be true.  However, it’s important to realize that sometimes, there may be only one correct choice amid a number of paths to follow, and that choice is correct for that particular point in history, or there may be NO correct choice to make, and a new choice must be developed.  This is where innovation steps in and, more often than not, saves the day.

It’s clear from today’s media reports that as a society, we have reached that point.  It’s no longer a debate over privacy vs. national security since now the third component – technology – has entered the picture.

It’s always been there.  We’ve just associated it with one side or the other, or, perhaps, both sides of the privacy vs. security debate.  It’s helpful to realize that there are now at least three entities which make up a system.  Now it’s not just an “either-or” battle anymore.  The introduction of the third element creates the system, and the problem must now be approached systemically.  One side is no longer right, and the other side wrong.  To allude to another battle hymn of the 1960’s, “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” (which you may also feel applies to our nation’s political climate as well).

You may recall hearing the news about Apple’s refusal to decrypt data in an iPhone of a terrorism suspect from the San Bernardino attack in December 2015.  But education has came to the forefront about a year later when it was announced that 12,000 students in the District of Columbia had their data exposed after it was erroneously uploaded to a Web site (  Yes, the error was corrected, but that doesn’t change the fact that the data was exposed in the first place.  And, whether it happens purposefully or by accident, exposure occurred, and therefore, must be reported.

And that means the media must report it to the public, which adds fuel to an already incendiary situation.

There are several observations that can be gleaned from these circumstances, in addition to the realization of the systemic nature of the issue.  That’s an important one, however, since taking sides no longer results in a viable long-term solution.  The solution is found somewhere at the intersection of the elements.

The observation that flows from that realization is that the solution will not be likely to come from privacy experts, security experts, nor technology experts, since innovation always requires some type of “outside the box” entity to contribute to the conversation, and everyone wants to protect their own vertical, thinking that their expertise is the most important.  That’s where education can play a key role in developing the solution.  After all, that’s the challenge of designing curriculum today, isn’t it?  Preparing our young people to solve problems that do not yet exist today is on the tongues of more and more visionary educational leaders.  Well, one of those problems just became a reality.  Go.

The third observation is somewhat portrayed in the graphic for this article.  Let’s take a look at our $1 bill.  Not the picture of George Washington, but, in the language of the numismatist, the obverse.  It clearly states, “In God we Trust.”  It’s a statement of fact.  Interestingly, in the battle among privacy v. security v. technology, it all comes down to “Whom do you trust?”

And while you’re looking at the dollar bill, take a look at the pyramid with the “all-seeing eye” atop it.  No, it’s not an allusion to The Lord of the Rings, but the “Eye of Providence” has the Latin phrase, Annuis Coeptus inscribed above it.  Translated it means, “Favor our undertakings.”  What is providence?  According to, it’s “Divine guidance or care.”  Also, note that the eye is not a physical part of the pyramid, but is atop the non-finished structure to give the vision of completion, meaning our nation was only getting started with a strong and solid foundation.  At the bottom of the pyramid is another Latin phrase, Novus ordo seclorum, which means, “New order of the ages.”  No, it does not mean “New World Order,” but that it is the “Beginning of the American era,” as was proposed by the designer, Charles Thompson.

Bottom line:  If we want to be seen as leaders, then we need to lead.  Discuss options, yes.  Debate approaches, definitely.  Develop acceptable solutions, absolutely!  But lawsuits and courtroom procedures to something done because someone is “digging in their heels” doesn’t shed a favorable light on either party, and benefits only one group of people:  the attorneys.