I began this mini-series of posts exploring what to do if you read something suicidal online from someone you know well, or, not so well.
This is the real question that I want to tackle: What can, and what should, the government do?
There is no doubt that this question cannot be answered in one blog post. I will begin with outlining what I see to be the basics.
Security VS Privacy
There’s a tendency in the media, and among politicians, to display everything as black or white. You’re either Republican or Democrat. It’s either Nature or Nurture. You’re either for surveillance, or against it.
Here on Fried’s Blog there will be none of that. The goal is to find an appropriate balance between both.
Nobody wants the government to read all of their e-mails, but the truth is that they can, and they probably are. Hopefully it is not being done by a person with an ulterior motive. Hopefully it is a computer program running text through a database that sets off flares when a certain combination of signals are sent.
If the government can responsibly use technology to become alerted to a possible terrorist plan, can’t they do the same thing for a possible suicide plan?
A Moral Responsibility
That last statement had a few big ‘if’s’. Let’s just assume the answer is yes, that we can work this cyber-security thing out. That the data will be kept safe, that it will only used for emergencies, and that the practices will become transparent.
If we can detect a suicide threat, don’t we have to?
What good is all of this technology if it cannot be used for … good?
Frankly, if you answer is ‘no’, you are in trouble. I do not see us going back in time and getting rid of the internet. This issue is here to stay. Which means that, in my opinion, the only possible answer is:
Yes, it is our duty to both make use of the potentially life-saving technology, and to oversee that it’s operations are fair.
My next post will get a little bit more into the specifics. I would love to hear from you on this, I will include your concerns in the series.