On Thursday, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited Canberra, Australia, to celebrate the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of the Coral Sea (related to World War II). She also came to sign agreements, including one to “improve information sharing between the United States and Australia.” During her trip, she spoke at the Australian National University and her speech (DHS html; archive pdf) focused on “Achieving Security and Privacy.” She focused on highlighting similar goals between the two countries while skimming past the differences in the countries’ privacy-protective laws and programs. Here’s an excerpt from her prepared remarks:
So today, I would like to talk about some of these security challenges, and specifically, to express my belief that we can, and we will, meet them … while simultaneously protecting civil rights and privacy.
As we work to meet evolving threats, we must protect our values, including the rights, liberties, and privacy of our peoples.
After all, everything we do to combat terrorism and violent extremism is rooted in the fundamental objective to secure for future generations the values and way of life that our countries share.
Privacy has long been one of these core values. […]
Too often, in my view, however, we view the relationship between security and privacy as similar to a scale. If we emphasize one, we must diminish the other. We talk…mistakenly… about how to “balance” the two.
But I don’t like the word “balance” because I think we have to cast aside the notion that our liberty and our security are two opposing values that are on the opposite sides of a seesaw, that when one is up the other necessarily must be down.
The plain fact of the matter is that you cannot live free if you live in fear. Security is a prerequisite if we wish to exercise the rights we cherish. So in this way, our security and our liberty are not mutually exclusive. They are mutually reinforcing.
Of course, our countries have different frameworks for privacy and individual rights. Our constitutional protections work in different ways. But we should remember that our values are more broadly similar than they are different.