Donald Kerr served as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence from 2007 to 2009. On October 23, 2007, he gave a speech at the annual “GEOINT” conference where he spoke about privacy and civil liberties. At the conference, he stated, “Safety and privacy – it’s common thinking that, in order to have more safety, you get less privacy” (Kerr, 2007). Kerr seems to focus on the reality that you can’t always have what you want; a sacrifice has to be made in order to determine what is more important. The American people want safety and privacy but to each individual it will mean something different.
Donald Kerr’s other remarks focused on anonymity, and how it doesn’t reflect privacy. The fact that society is focused on identifying with social media or being identified with other groups doesn’t allow for privacy that has been desired as one is out in the open. With this, Kerr states that,
“Protecting anonymity isn’t a fight that can be won. Anyone that’s typed in their name on Google understands that. Instead, privacy, I would offer, is a system of laws, rules, and customs with an infrastructure of Inspectors General, oversight committees, and privacy boards on which our intelligence community commitment is based and measured. And it is that framework that we need to grow and nourish and adjust as our cultures change” (Kerr, 2007).
Kerr also discusses the importance of intelligence sharing in his speech, which highlights the importance the 9/11 had taught which was the need for communication among federal and local agencies; “To allow for greater safety, we need to get better at managing secrecy” (Kerr, 2007). However, in doing such, if the government has this responsibility to doing their best to ensure security, privacy (and secrecy) will become more limited as society won’t be living as free; the Fourth Amendment does not agree with this, and that is where the concern for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 comes into play.
Kerr hit the nail on the head when he mentions a sacrifice needing to be made and the fact that we need to be better at secrecy. With so many of today’s events where secrets have gotten out and the NSA has overstepped to the point of invasion of privacy, boundaries need to be put back into place. This reflects the importance of the FISA; it “…sets out procedures for physical and electronic surveillance and collection of foreign intelligence information” (Justice Information Sharing, 2013). However, having this specific act in place, it can quickly have citizens questioning if our rights are truly being protected during the pursuit of those that have caused concern of posing a threat to these rights.
It is easy to say that the constitutional rights of a citizen are always going to be at the center of a debate when it comes to privacy and what the U.S. can do. And that is why the Fourth Amendment is so important to us as it ensures that probable cause...