Suggesting Americans would prefer a transparent society to a totally private one, David Brin argued last night the importance of a free flow of information. “It is crucial we have a society in which most of the people know most of what is going on most of the time.”
Brin, a scientist, public speaker and author, presented a lecture entitled “A World Filled with Cameras: Security at the Cost of Freedom?” to more than 120 people at the Law School”s Hutchins Hall last night.
“Given a choice between privacy and accountability people will choose privacy for themselves and accountability for everyone else,” Brin said.
Arguing the importance of public criticism and information about the American government, Brin stressed the necessity for a two-way flow of information.
“Professionals and government officials are not going to find their own mistakes. It is the public”s duty to preserve and protect our society,” Brin said. “At the same time, the government requires information to strengthen national security. Information must flow both ways the public and the government must be monitoring each other.”
Many students and University community members attended the lecture, hoping to discuss privacy and information concerns.
“I agree with Brin when he suggests privacy is a practical impossibility,” said Andrew Mailhot, a first year Law student. “A totally transparent world in which everyone knows about everyone else may be a better situation than a world in which information is private. It”s at least something to consider.”
David Griffus, an LSA freshman, said he thinks individuals may have to relinquish some privacy in order to improve national security.
“I think Dr. Brin had a good point. For society to progress, the tele-screen has to go both ways,” Griffus said.
“The public must be able to monitor the government just as easily as the government watches them.”
John Hawkins, a Rackham student, said he attended the lecture to hear Brin discuss privacy issues.
“I found his insights interesting. I think a free flow of information is more critical today than strict privacy rights,” said Hawkins.
“However, I believe people should maintain complete privacy concerning certain aspects of their lives, such as their thoughts and their psychiatric exam results.”
Paul Bennett, a Media Union staff-member, said he attended the lecture to discuss his concern for endangered privacy rights as a result of overzealous security concerns.
“Dr. Brin left me with a lot to think about. I think it is important to remember that we are freer today than we have been in the past even though our government knows more about us now than they ever have before,” said Bennett.
Brin”s lecture was the second in a year-long series sponsored by the Park Foundation, the Law School, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Information, the College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.