Privacy versus security: A UNL panel discussion asks “Where do we draw the line?”

PrivacyGeorge Orwell’s iconic Big Brother may not be watching us, but recent revelations indicate the U.S. government’s National Security Agency is.

Americans value privacy as a basic civil liberty, but like people everywhere, they also value something else: security and safety. A 7 p.m. panel on Nov. 4 at UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications titled “Privacy versus security: Where do we draw the line?” will examine the trade-off between these two fundamental values.

While the argument is not new, it has become acute since Edward Snowden told the world last May that the NSA has been stockpiling massive amounts of data about individual U.S. citizens: records of phone, instant message, social media and email transactions and contact lists. Snowden, who was employed by a private contractor working for the NSA, told The Guardian newspaper in June that he wanted to tell the American public what “is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

On the other hand, NSA officials told the Washington Post in mid-October that the government’s bulk collection of data is designed to help the agency focus on “discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers.”

Panel members will include:

  • Doug Bereuter, Nebraska’s 1st District congressman from 1979-2004. While in Congress, Bereuter was vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Roger Lempke, retired U.S. Air Force officer and former adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard until he retired from military service in 2007.
  • Danielle Conrad, a member of the Nebraska Legislature since 2007, representing the 46th District on the north side of Lincoln. An attorney, she is a member of the Unicameral’s Appropriations Committee.
  • W. Don Nelson, publisher of Prairie Fire newspaper in Nebraska and state director for U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson from 2001 to 2006.
  • David Kotok, long-time reporter and then managing editor at the Omaha World-Herald before he retired in 2012, will be the panel moderator.

The panel discussion will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in Andersen Hall, home of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, at 16th and Q. The event is free and open to the public.

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