The Instigator
Con (against)
4 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Privacy is undervalued

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,030 times Debate No: 33359
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)




Pro will argue that privacy is undervalued while I will argue against the truth of this claim.


First round/con: definitions
First round/pro: definitions and constructive
Second round/con: constructive and rebuttal
Second round/pro: rebuttal
Third and Fourth rounds/pro & con: rebuttals
Fifth round/pro & con: conclusion and voting issues.

No forfeitting.
No new arguments in rebuttals. However, new examples may be brought in to support a prior point.

Privacy: "Freedom from unauthorized intrusion." (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, print)
Undervalued: "rate (something) insufficiently highly" (Online Oxford Dictionaries)


Thank you Con for starting this debate. I agree with Cons round structure, definitions, and rules. Con never gave us direction to which country or brand of privacy we are debating. Therefore, I assume it means all countries and privacy's for the individual.

Resolution- Privacy is undervalued

In this debate it is upon Pro to show that privacy is undervalued and why it is. Con must show that privacy is not undervalued and why it is not. The most convincing argument should prevail.

Pros Argument
In this debate I will offer three contentions why I think Privacy is undervalued. As mentioned in my opening, I will address all facets of privacy. So, I will focus my contentions on Political, Personnel, and Technological privacy's.

C1) Political

There are many countries where individuals have a fear of their governments. Some governments prohibit any freedom and make citizens criminals who would be innocent in other nations.

Privacy is a fundamental value but at the same time, it is undervalued by the state and government.[1] Almost every law infringes on the personnel privacy in some way. The problem is governments are suspicious of personal privacy, they distrust the individual, they think privacy's are out to harm the way of life or they think people are acting as criminals and therefore, seek their privacy's to be invaded. Most governments do not want a society where people will have full privacy to engage in their own personnel choices. Governments will oppose privacy as long as it continues to be seen as a screen for illegal, disruptive, and anti political behavior. Our government expresses more value for voting, expression, equality, than privacy of the people. For us to rely on governments to protect privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install our windows.

Federal web sites use unauthorized software that tracks Internet users despite policy rules that ban such information-gathering, according to a report to Congress..[2]

Justice Black:

"I like my privacy as much as the next one, but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has the right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision."

C2) Personnel

The idea of a right for privacy in ones own personal life was not conceived until recently. There is no explicit right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. There is no general right of privacy in the United Kingdom. It is not that people know things about us that bothers us, but that based on this knowledge, they discriminate. The most straightforward informational intrusions of your privacy might involve music, social functions, searches of your property, or even polygraph examinations.

A bunch of foreign students in the United States are monitored more closely to try and identify potential terrorist. This follows the American citizen as they are harassed inside airports and many other public domains.[3] Every day people must deal with regular citizens invading our personnel space. At home we have to deal with people messing with our personnel belongings. We have neighbors who like to invade our space or use property that does not belong to them.

The media have gone too far to find information about people. The right to privacy is a rapidly diminishing commodity. When a person achieves any kind of status, his or her right to privacy is immediately revoked. Invasion of privacy cannot only be used within the context of just media but also when speaking about a specific person. The public disclosure of private facts is a huge concern. You know that when you read in a magazine about people it sometimes lists that "close sources" gave the information away. The disclosure of private facts is defined as giving one who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of an individual.[3][4]

You have little or no right of privacy from the media if you are in a public place. The Bill of Rights protects citizens against unreasonable search, seizure, and privacy violation. But that is a protection from government intrusion not media corporations. Many suits against the media now claim invasion of privacy. Technology gives the media powerful new tools for intrusion into private lives.

C3) Technological

We can wake up and get online post a couple of status's and all the while spy ware tracks your information. We can get into our cars which have global tracking systems. While we commute we have RFID technology relaying our information and car position by a government agency. We can use our cell-phones which also have tracking systems. All the while the government is being hacked and our information is passed out by cyber stalkers. We go to work and while we park we are watched by surveillance cameras. We go to work where we are overseen by our employer. We can go to numerous places that scans and tracks our face and voice. We can go to places to eat or drink and there they have digital cameras and our transactions are monitored by third parties.

The Data Protection agency has recorded millions of complaints of privacy intrusion. Most were of a general nature, the most common specific queries related to the right to access personal data and the credit reference system. The Data Protection noted that enquiries were increasing, as individuals became more concerned with their privacy rights.[5]

We have drones watching us. President Obama's secretary of the Air Force stated the purpose of these drones are for, "balancing ... obtaining intelligence information for rights." However, flying over our homes, farms, ranches and businesses and spying on us while we conduct our everyday lives is not an example of protecting our rights. It is an example of violating them.[6]

Personal information is gathered from a host of both public and private sources. DHS also maintains the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT) that has the fingerprints, photographs and biographical information on 126 million people. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) keeps fingerprint records of some 62 million people. Computers and the Internet provide the ability to rummage through the closets of your life in ways that have never before been possible.


As we can see the privacy of the person is always being took for granted. The citizens themselves have lack of concern for their fellow citizens privacy, much less the government or media. Privacy appears to have value amongst people but that value is undervalued. Until we look to increase the value of privacy into its rightful place then we can look for our basic right for privacy to be invaded.

Thank you and I send it back to Con.









Debate Round No. 1


I am resolved that privacy is not undervalued. For, as we will see, the value of unity is being harmed by the current high valuing of privacy.

Let’s begin with a brief resolutional analysis.

RA 1: Determining value.
The resolution states “privacy is undervalued.” Yet in order for us to prove that privacy is undervalued, we must first discover the value of privacy. However, pro has failed to do this as demonstrated in analysis point two.

RA 2: Privacy is amoral.
Privacy is not intrinsically valuable. Instead, its value depends on its results. Thus, in order to determine the value of privacy, we must determine the value of its results. Unfortunately, pro has failed to do this and thus, we cannot know that privacy is undervalued since we have no idea of how it ought to be valued.

RA 3: Value Hierarchy.
When two values come into conflict, a decision must be made as to which is more valuable, demonstrating that one is in fact more valuable than another. From this we can see that values are hierarchical by nature.

RA 4: Moving up the hierarchy.
When the resolution states that privacy is undervalued, it claims that privacy is valued too low within this hierarchy, also implying that it ought to be moved up the hierarchy. What pro must demonstrate then is that a specific value in the hierarchy is currently being wrongfully valued above privacy. Otherwise, privacy is not undervalued.

However, pro has not done this and therefore has not proven that privacy is undervalued. I, on the other hand, will prove that privacy ought to move down the hierarchy.

Now let’s examine pro’s case, in which were brought up a host of privacy violations. The problem is that violations do not equal undervalued. Using violations of privacy as proof that privacy is undervalued assumes that violation of privacy is a bad thing. Yet violation of privacy is only bad if privacy is undervalued. Thus, pro is using circular reasoning to prove to you that privacy is undervalued.

In addition, it is often the case in privacy violations that privacy is not being undervalued, but rather that something else is being valued above privacy, which is not the same thing.

Let’s look at some of these examples pro brought up. Of course, I can't in any way respond to all of them, but I will try to cover as many as possible by lumping them into three main groups.

Application 1: Governments

One of the main examples brought up in each of pro’s three contentions was governments’ violations of people’s privacy. Yet pro said something very interesting: that governments oppose privacy because it is seen as a screen for illegal and disruptive behavior. Now why would privacy be seen as a screen for illegal or disruptive behavior? I believe that it is because privacy often is used as a screen for illegal behavior.

Consider the TSA. Just two weeks ago, 40 firearms were discovered, 31 of which were loaded.[1] The government, rather than undervaluing privacy, is simply valuing our lives above privacy.

Application 2: Media

Two arguments were brought up here. First, the media undervalues the privacy of public figures. However, we need to realize that the livelihood of many of these depend upon this publicity.

Second, we have no privacy in a public place. I would disagree. By going out in public, we have in essence authorized anyone to view us. Thus, this is not privacy based on the accepted definition of privacy.

Application 3:cyber-criminals

The problem with accusing any criminals (cyber or otherwise) of undervaluing privacy is that this actually demonstrates a proper valuing of privacy by the rest of society, since society recognizes that undervaluing privacy is criminal.

I will now proceed to prove that privacy is in fact overvalued. We will see this through my value of unity, which we will define as “concord, harmony, or agreement.” My criterion, or the way in which we will achieve my value is communication, which is defined as, “The art of expressing ideas.” We will see that the current high valuing of privacy has lead to a loss of unity.

Contention 1: Unity in the family.

Pro mentioned people messing with our belongings as well as invading our space and using our property. However, on the individual level, we find that privacy is actually overvalued.

Application 1: Privacy of the Child

Writer James Tower once wrote, “Today’s families are more disconnected than ever. Even in a world that has more means of communication than at any other point in history, we struggle to connect with each other.” I believe that this lack of communication and subsequent disunity is the result of an overvaluing of privacy.

The movement commonly called “privacy of the child” has so effected families that they consider it a protection of each individual’s rights to keep matters private from the rest of the family through lack of communication, which in turn leads to a lack of unity.

Pro talked about addressing all issues of privacy, and yet he narrowed it down to privacy of the individual. While I agree that this is a fundamental part of privacy, I do not believe that the resolution implies this limitation. In the next two contentions, we will see two aspects which were unaddressed: society to government, and nation to nation.

Contention 2: National unity

Privacy harms unity within a nation.

Application 2: Executive Privilege.

For this application, we will need to define one key term: Executive Privilege, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “the discretionary right claimed by certain U.S. presidents to withhold information from Congress or the judiciary.”

After a failed operation planned by the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, suspicious politicians requested more information concerning the operation. However, in June of 2012, President Obama appealed to executive privilege in order to keep certain information from Congress. This protection of privacy resulted in a storm of discord, with blame cast on the ATF, the Justice Department, and the President for the failed operation. This storm of accusation from the Republicans led to an equally hot response from the Democrats as they criticized the Republicans for making a mountain out of a molehill. All this discord simply because of an overvaluing of the Executive Branch’s privacy.

Discord among the various governmental branches is all too common because of such privacy protecting privileges as executive privilege.

Contention 3: International Unity.
Privacy also harms unity internationally.

Application two: operation fast and furious.

When the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives formed a plan to capture certain high-up drug-dealers, many of the guns they had intended to use as bait escaped, crossing the border into Mexico. Unfortunately, the ATF kept the knowledge of what was occurring from the Mexican Government as well as from ATF agents in Mexico. According to political analyst Ray Walser, “ATF officials remained unresponsive to queries from Mexico.” Unfortunately, as the plan began to backfire, this protection of privacy fostered distrust and discord between Mexico and the U.S.

As Darren D. Gil, former ATF attaché to Mexico, lamented, “why were ATF personnel in Mexico kept in the dark on this operation [OFF], which has now imperiled trust and cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement at a time when that trust and cooperation is more essential than ever?”

I reserve the right to defend the value of unity in subsequent rounds.Clearly, privacy is overvalued, for it is being wrongfully valued above the value of unity. Thus, I am resolved that privacy is overvalued and ought to move down the hierarchy of values.



Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Pro agreed to the rules: No forfeitting. I await his response.


Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Pennington forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF. I thought I had warned most of his debates that he had gone MIA. Sorry I missed this one.