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The Contender
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Privacy is undervalued

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/19/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,523 times Debate No: 32660
Debate Rounds (5)
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This should be fairly straightforward. I must prove that privacy is undervalued. Con must prove that privacy is not undervalued.

Round 1: Acceptance and definitions.
Round 2: Constructives
Rounds 3, 4, and 5: Rebuttals

Privacy - "Freedom from unauthorized intrusion." (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Undervalued - "to regard or esteem too lightly; to value, rate, or estimate below the real worth." (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary)


I will accept the challenge. I believe that Privacy is in fact valued.
I accept the definitions above.

"worth or importance: the worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody"

So i will prove that the government and the public does value your privacy!
Debate Round No. 1


Geoffrey Fisher once said, "There is a sacred realm of privacy for every man and woman where he makes his choices and decisions " a realm of his own essential rights and liberties into which the law, generally speaking, must not intrude." It is because I agree with Fisher that I stand resolve: privacy is undervalued. In this speech, I will prove this point to you with a value and several contentions.

But before we get into the meat of my case, let"s begin with a resolutional analysis.
Analysis point 1: Burdens of proof. What I as pro must prove is that, on the whole, the individual"s freedom from unauthorized intrusion is valued below its true worth. Con, on the other hand, must prove to you that on the whole, privacy is not undervalued. In other words that it is either valued correctly, or else, valued above its true worth.
Analysis point 2: Privacy is amoral. Privacy is not an intrinsic value; it is not valuable in and of itself. It is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. The value of privacy then, is determined by what it achieves. It is an extrinsic value.

Thus, in order to determine the value of privacy, I will uphold a value. This value that I will uphold is liberty, defined by Merriam Webster"s dictionary as "freedom from arbitrary government or control." Arbitrary means "not restrained or limited in the exercise of power." I believe that liberty measures the value of privacy.

Contention 1: liberty paramount. This has clearly been evidenced throughout history as men laid down their very lives in order to preserve liberty.
Application 1: the revolutionary war. The American people clearly recognized the supreme value of liberty, for they were willing to fight and even die for this ideal. So fundamental was this value to the founding fathers that Patrick Henry famously said, "Give me liberty, or give me death."

Contention 2: Tyranny. If we do not properly value our freedom from intrusion, we open the door to overt control by society, government, or any who desire to gain this control. In this way, a lack of privacy brings about limited liberty.
Application 2: Hitler"s Germany. After Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, individuals soon lost their right to privacy, which meant that officials could read people's mail, listen in on telephone conversations, and search private homes without a warrant. This enabled him to gain total control over the German people, such that everything they were or were not allowed to read or write was controlled by him. Through a lack of privacy, tyranny was brought about.

Contention 3: Liberty. When privacy is valued, no man can come and arbitrarily coerce or restrain our choices or actions.
Application 3: The Bill of Rights. The founding fathers recognized this link between privacy and liberty, as is clearly demonstrated throughout the Bill of Rights: the first amendment"s protection of the privacy of beliefs, the third amendment"s protection of the privacy of the home, and the fourth amendment"s protection of the privacy of person and possessions. The founding fathers saw that in order to ensure the liberty of the people, they first needed to ensure and properly value the privacy of the people, for privacy and liberty are inherently connected.

Contention 4: Privacy is Undervalued.
Application 4: Governmental surveillance. Michael McFarland writes, "The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Homeland Security also have many programs to monitor citizens in general, not just those who are under suspicion. These efforts include sifting through media references, tracking chatter on social networks, and monitoring peoples' movements through license plate scanners and video cameras."
According to William Binney, a former official with the National Security Agency, trillions of phone calls, emails and other messages sent by U.S. citizens have been intercepted by the government. In fact, in an interview with Democracy Now, Binney claimed that the government currently possesses copies of almost all emails sent and received in the United States.
According to the Watson Institute, "the FBI"s "Joint Terrorism Task Forces" and the Defense Department"s base "protection" staff have monitored peace groups with absolutely no tie to Al Qaeda, including pacifist Quakers and Catholics at the Thomas More Center in Pennsylvania. Under the guise of monitoring "terrorists," federal and state agents have also monitored anti-nuclear activists and Pennsylvania residents concerned about the threat unregulated oil shale drilling poses to their water supply."
It is frightening when we realize that our government currently monitors those who disagree with them for no other reason than that they disagree! Where will this surveillance end?
Indeed, it gets worse. For citizens simply suspected of associating with terrorists may be assassinated, as was Anwar al-Awlaqi, whose killing was ordered by the President just last year. Was he abetting terrorists? Was there any real connection between al-Awlaqi and terrorists? We will never know.
This surveillance has frightening implications for the liberties of Americans. As McFarland says, "The mere knowledge that American citizens could be the subjects of surveillance can in itself have a chilling effect on political freedom."

Thus, we see that the paramount value of liberty is harmed by a low valuing of privacy. Therefore, I stand resolved, that Privacy is undervalued, and thus ought to be valued more highly.


Privacy is a topic of hot debate in the US. With new drones and whatnot people are asking the question "Is our privacy valued?" To that I must reply yes!

What is Privacy? Privacy is the freedom from free intrusion. Its value is important as it helps us live our separate lives and helps us keep some things secret. These secrets though can be detrimental to the safety of citizens and has been proven time and time again.
The government values our personal lives while at the same time using its power to provide saftey to us, and this is what im going to prove. Our privacy is valued very high and only violated in protecting the country.

Contention 1: Privacy is upheld throughout the nation. This nation was built upon the idea that privacy should be upheld. So much so that it was written in the Constituion. The constituion's 4th amendment states

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized"

Privacy was a leading effort in our country so much so that it has been written into our contsitution. THe government today still abides by this which allows innocent people to maintain their privacy while only criminals are violated.

Contention 2: Privacy is only violated to protect safety.
I will not say that privacy is never violated. It however is only violated for the greater good. Government survalliance is in place because people wanted it there. We live in a democracy. The people have elected the ones running this country and the purpose of a government is to "Protect" Its citezens. Privacy is only violated to protect one another. Which would you rather have? Massive bombinbs weekly or for someone to read your emails once a while. The government makes sure that any violation of privacy is for the greater good and safety of all.

Contention 3: Privacy is highly valued in our country. If privacy isnt valued then why does the government have investiagtive teams and why must the government have police make patrols. The reason is that the governent does not know everything that is happening. Why dont they know this? Because our privacy is valued. We are a democracy that values privacy as one of our freedoms. The government sees this and values it greatly. One such example is minors. Their information is never given out to maintain their privacy. Medical records are private and so is whatever every american does in their own home. Privacy is highly valued!

Debate Round No. 2


William O. Douglas, former associate justice of the Supreme Court, claimed, "The privacy and dignity of our citizens are being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen -- a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a person's life." What Douglas saw then is exactly what we see now: an undervaluing of privacy.

Values Clash
Con has brought up some very interesting arguments, claiming that privacy is valued correctly because violations of privacy bring about safety. Essentially, he tried to refute my arguments of liberty harmed by claiming that if we are kept safe, infringement of liberty does not matter, thus, claiming that safety is more important than liberty. This is the key issue of this debate. If I can prove that liberty is more valuable than safety, then I will have proven that this protection of safety by violating privacy should not occur because the greater value of liberty is harmed by these same violations.
But is liberty in fact more valuable than safety? There are two reasons I believe liberty is more valuable than safety.
The first reason is that safety without liberty is not worth having. Dwight D. Eisenhower put it well when he said, "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom."
My second reason is that safety without liberty is impossible. Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Now I would actually take this idea one step further and claim that those who give up essential liberty to purchase safety will get neither liberty nor safety.
If the government possesses total control, even if this control is sometimes used to keep us safe from foreign attacks, it will lead to diminished safety, for we will no longer be safe from those that have absolute power over us. As Dr. Robert Higgs put it, "placing confidence in the government to function as savior or problem solver does not lead to the peace, prosperity, and safety that people crave. On the contrary, that misplaced confidence ultimately leads to tyranny and diminished security"in Benjamin Franklin"s words, "Neither liberty nor safety.""
This can be seen in the example of Anwar al-Awlaqi that I brought up in the first round. He was a U.S. citizen murdered by the government with no trial, not even probable cause, simply because they suspected that he might possibly be associated with a terrorist. Awlaqi is just one of many such citizens. As we see, the value of safety is also harmed by a lack of liberty. Thus, the value of liberty should be held higher than safety because safety is impossible without liberty.

Now let"s examine the rest of Con"s case.

ConContention 1: Con claimed here that privacy is upheld throughout the nation, bringing as evidence, the Constitution, specifically the fourth amendment. According to Jonathan Turley, professor of public interest law at George Washington University, "The government can use "national security letters" to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens " and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party." Trevor Timm, (J.D.) claimed, "from 2003-2006, the FBI issued more than 192,000 National Security Letters to get Americans" business, phone or Internet records without a warrant." We can also cross-apply my examples from ProContention 4. Clearly, privacy is not upheld throughout the nation.

ConContention 2: Here there were a couple of arguments. First, Con claimed that privacy is only violated to protect safety. But as I"ve already demonstrated, this should not occur since liberty ought to be valued above safety. Thus, this claim only serves to support my argument that privacy is undervalued, since we find that these violations spring from an incorrect valuing of safety over liberty.
His second argument in this contention was that we have authorized the intrusion. Since we have defined privacy as "freedom from unauthorized intrusion," this would essentially mean that these intrusions do not deal with privacy as we have defined it. According to former U.S. official, William Binney, "people may have nothing to say about it" we haven"t had anything to say so far." Clearly, then, the intrusion is unauthorized.

ConContention 3: Con argued that privacy is highly valued because the government doesn"t know everything. I would like to again look at the resolution: Privacy is undervalued. Not "privacy is nonexistent" or "privacy is not valued" but "privacy is undervalued." It doesn"t matter whether or not the government knows everything. The fact is that privacy is undervalued because the paramount value of liberty is harmed by the current low valuing of privacy.
Con also brought up the example of minors, claiming that their privacy is valued. However, I would argue that this is actually another example of undervaluing privacy. In reality, the government is inserting itself between the parents and the child, invading the privacy of the family and seeking to become the key influence in the child"s life. This is an undervaluing of the privacy of the family, under the guise of protecting the privacy of the child.

Now let"s continue on to my case.

ProContention 1: Liberty is paramount. This issue has already been addressed in the values clash.

ProContention 2: Tyranny/ProContention 3: Liberty. These contentions still stand, unaddressed by Con. Thus, the connection between liberty, privacy, and tyranny has been clearly established.

ProContention 4: Privacy is undervalued. I believe that I have sufficiently supported this claim through the rest of my responses. Since the ultimate value of liberty is harmed by privacy violations, privacy is truly proven to be undervalued.


Kurta234 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


In debate, silence is concession. Therefore, if Con does not respond to my arguments in the next round, we will have to assume that he has conceded the debate to Pro. I believe that no further words are required. I await Con's responses.


I must concede defeat on this argument! My oppenent is clearly more prepared about this debate and I believe that he/she is clearly the winner! I must concede my position and issue a congratulatory statement!
Debate Round No. 4


Jacob_Thomas forfeited this round.


Kurta234 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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