The Instigator
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The Contender
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National Security is more important than digital privacy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/12/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,983 times Debate No: 35523
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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Came back to this website (I love the revamped CSS!) and figured I would give one of next season's LD debate topics a try.
Five rounds. 1st round is acceptance, 2nd round is opening arguments (no rebuttal), third round is clash, fourth round is more clash, fifth round is closing arguments.
For research purposes, the debate will probably end up being utilitarian vs. deontological.


Accepted. I'm new to, so this will be my first debate online.

I'd like you to clarify 'national security', or I'm just going to use Wikipedia as a basis/reference for the definition (

Good luck!

Debate Round No. 1


Welcome to the website. Alright. Let's begin with definitions and framework.

National security-The protection of citizens from national threats, terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, etc.

Digital privacy-The privacy of a citizen with anything electronic. Including phones, internet records, and emails.

I should clarify, though this might already be obvious, that logically be being "pro" you are saying national security should be valued above digital privacy, in other words, national security can violate digital privacy. Just thought I would clarify that.

I have one contention.

1. Digital privacy is a right, and rights should never be violated. Permitting violation of citizens" rights destroys the right. Our government is founded on the idea of social contracts. We give part of our rights away in exchange for safety. In our social contract, the constitution, one of the rights we are guaranteed is digital privacy. Now, if the government says that they can violate our right to digital privacy, that right does not exist anymore. Rights were not made to be violated on certain acceptable occasions, they were made to never be violated.

So, digital privacy is more important than national security because rights should never be violated. If we say that the violation of a right is OK, then we are saying that that right can be violated anytime.


Today I’m going to present four contentions:

1. Digital surveillance greatly reduces the risk of terrorist attacks, and in turn prevents the unnecessary deaths of civilians.

Use of technology by terrorists is becoming increasingly prevalent in the modern age, with terrorists often communicating using the Internet—what is currently regarded as the fastest and most effective way of transmitting a message—when planning attacks. Digital surveillance, at its most basic level, is to ensure that the government is fully aware of these risks ahead of time so that it can take appropriate steps to prevent these threats to civilians. Knowing plans ahead of time has proven to be crucial in many events over the past few years. NSA surveillance of both Internet activity as well as phone records over the past few years has resulted in the stopping of many terrorist incidents, including New York subway bombings as well as terrorist attacks on key buildings in Washington. [1]

2. The benefits outweighs the cost in the long-run; the short term sacrifice of digital privacy allows for the long-term continuity of values and rights such as freedom of speech and privacy

Although national security carries the cost of a short-term encroachment of digital privacy, this is only to ensure the long-term continuity of freedom, privacy, democracy, and all the other values that make the U.S. what it is today. National security is in an integral part of the U.S’ efforts in fighting the war on terror. Prioritizing digital privacy of U.S. citizens over national security will ultimately lead to the destruction of our civil rights, one of which is privacy, faster than any government policy will. Our ability to retain these rights depends on the outcome of the war on terror—and as terrorists gain increasing global influence, our ability to protect ourselves is crucial if we don’t want a state overrun by tyrants or extremists. Our long-term prosperity, protection of the constitution and protection of our civil rights very well depends on our national security, and if that means we have to give up our digital privacy in the short term, so be it.

3. People are actively able to remove themselves from government scrutiny in the case of digital surveillance
Digital surveillance is not imposed on citizens.

One can actively choose not to use digital equipment—cell phones, laptops, MP3s—to avoid government surveillance. The government isn’t necessarily taking away privacy in the sense that one can still remove himself/herself from government scrutiny and surveillance. A metaphor can explain this clearly—imagine a house with two rooms. The first room is a private, secluded area, whereas the second room is filled with security cameras posted on the walls and microphones embedded in the walls. In this case, the first room represents the ‘real world’, whereas the second room represents the virtual, or digital world (essentially, cyberspace). The government isn’t necessarily taking away the inherent right to privacy by posting security cameras in the second room, because people can still function and work in private by simply doing whatever they have to do in the second room.

4. Lives are much more important than privacy

This is pretty obvious in the way that most logical and rational people put their survival over anything else. Dying carries a huge opportunity cost. It’s why people are willing to pay millions for life-saving surgery or medication, and why suicide survivors—people who claim to have lost purpose in their lives—report regretting suicide halfway down the bridge, or midway through their suicide attempt. In fact, the majority of Americans have reported that they don’t mind the NSA spying on them. [2]


Debate Round No. 2


Due to unforeseen time constraints, I must forfeit the debate. Sorry


That's a shame, as I would have loved to continue this interesting and engaging discussion. Nevertheless, I'd like to thank Con for this enjoyable, albeit a bit short, debate.
Debate Round No. 3


Vote for me :)
Debate Round No. 4


dragonb95 forfeited this round.


Vote for me :D
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by dragonb95 5 years ago
Donald Keller I'm taking the stuff about the NSA out.
Posted by Fictional_Truths1 5 years ago
You'll have a hard time finding a Pro on this site.
Posted by donald.keller 5 years ago
I was going to go in for the battle, but then you said it was about the NSA... I'm not so sure I can argue with you. But you should be more specific with the title.
Posted by Sauh 5 years ago
Come catch one in the bollocks, if you have any bollocks; you jerk.
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