Privacy, Anonymity, and Cyber Security

Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 107-114, 2013

8 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2013

Date Written: June 29, 2013


U.S. President Barack Obama, in his annual ‘State of the Union’ address to the American public on the 12th of February 2013, pleaded specifically for legislation that would address the grave security threats to vital national infrastructure posed by relentless cyber-attacks, while simultaneously protecting the privacy of individual U.S. citizens. His very public plea in this respect was the most recent voice in a rising chorus of concern from political and military leaders in Europe, include the U.K., and elsewhere, lamenting the explosion of cyber espionage (military and industrial), the theft of state secrets and technological innovations, and the increasing vulnerability of the world’s energy, financial, and transportation sectors to potentially devastating cyber-attacks.

President Obama’s recent address thus confronts us once again with a controversial and as-yet unresolved question. To what degree would rank and file citizens of democratic nations be willing to surrender some measure of each individual citizen’s privacy in order to protect themselves collectively against cyber snooping, internet criminals, corporate espionage, and potentially devastating cyber-attacks against their nation’s power grid or air traffic control systems, launched by terrorists or ‘rogue’ nations like Iran or North Korea? Shouldn’t any nation and its citizens be willing to take reasonable precautions for the sake of greater security now, precisely so that they can avoid having to make far more difficult decisions later, regarding (for example) the kind of ‘kinetic’ (i.e., conventional military-force) retaliation that cyber-attacks, cyber harm, and retaliation in self-defense might otherwise require?

Keywords: internet, anonymity, privacy, security threat, cyber-attack, legislation, Obama, ethics, international law

Suggested Citation

Lucas, George R., Privacy, Anonymity, and Cyber Security (June 29, 2013). Amsterdam Law Forum, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 107-114, 2013 , Available at SSRN:

George R. Lucas (Contact Author)

United States Naval Academy ( email )

121 Blake Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States

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