Implications of Select New Technologies for Individual Rights and Public Safety

34 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2012

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: 2002


Are the new measures that have been introduced to protect America from terrorism too extensive, undermining our rights? Or are they not extensive enough, leaving the nation vulnerable to future attacks?! This Article focuses on those public safety measures pertaining to communications surveillance and, specifically, to six technologies: cellular phones, Internet communications, strong encryption, Carnivore, the Key Logger System ("KLS"), and Magic Lantern. It examines the law's effect on these technologies as well as on individual rights and the public interest.

This Article assumes that both individual rights and public safety must be protected. Given that on many occasions advancing one requires some curtailment of the other, the key question is what the proper balance between these two cardinal values is. The concept of balance is found in the Fourth Amendment. It refers to the right not to be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure! Thus, it recognizes a category of searches that are fully compatible with the Constitution -those that are reasonable. Historically, courts have found searches to be reasonable when they serve a compelling public interest, such as public safety or public health.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Implications of Select New Technologies for Individual Rights and Public Safety (2002). Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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