Mayor Stephen Witt will be forced to pay a ransom of $460K after hackers locked Lake City’s servers. Since then, the local community and politicians have been unable to access their emails and make online payments through Lake City’s systems. This is the second time in less than a week that a city in Florida has become a target for hackers. A few days ago, Riviera Beach’s city council decided to pay 65 bitcoins (USD $592K) to hackers who encrypted their files and locked them out of their servers.
On October 26th, 2001, George W. Bush signed into law The Patriot Act, which was written in the wake of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and has been obscuring the rights of American and foreign citizens ever since. The Patriot Act is a “security law” which tremendously broadened the search and surveillance powers of the United States government, allowing law enforcement to access the emails, phone calls, browsing history, and spending habits of private citizens all in the name of counter-terrorism. According to the United States government, the future possibility of danger outweighs the ongoing and present subjugation of the rights to privacy and personal autonomy.
To restrict any citizen’s freedoms requires a very good reason, and for some, the “threat of terrorism” is enough. But with this agreed idea in mind, a few things need to be at the forefront of the conversation. Is there a clear and present danger relating to terrorism which is persistent enough to warrant the restriction of rights? Is the possibility of an attack enough to warrant the restriction of rights? Does The Patriot Act work in practice? And is The Patriot Act moral in theory?