Personal freedom is what is at stake here, or at least that is the concern of many. How can someone feel free to speak their mind on government matters if their anonymity is nothing but a transparent cloak in the eyes of the government? The ability for any person or organization to indiscriminately and discretely collect personal data about others is power, no matter how you look at it. As they say in the movies, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Trust is the real issue for most people. Do we trust our government to use good judgment and sufficient discretion with a tool as powerful as the one that they have in front of them?
But this debate really goes even deeper than the previous questions. Without context, idealists on the right and the left will draw hard lines about this. But the challenges that our country faces are quite complicated. Working in the IT field, I have been presented with many real-world security challenges. Usually it boils down to the many vs. few predicament. Should we let the few rotten apples spoil the bunch? How do you save the good apples? If only a few people at a company present most of the risk to the entire company due to their abuse of policies, do you take away everyone’s rights by imposing restrictions on everyone? Or do you develop a comprehensive system for holding people accountable so that you can allow more freedoms? What if the same system of accountability that protects personal rights requires access that encroaches on personal freedoms? Now you have to choose between the lesser of two evils. When you throw in “trust”, it further complicates the decision. Maybe now, you too understand the predicament that we, as a country, face.