These days, there is little that occurs without leaving some type of electronic trail. Cameras appear in buildings and on street corners, catching every move of passersby, and emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communication carry critical messages, and in some cases, details about wrongdoings, threats and crimes.
Most Americans enjoy a sense of safety and privacy when communicating via their home computers and personal cellphones, but what happens when the information contained in such communications has the capacity to cause harm to the general public? Should tech companies have to help law enforcement execute search warrants to access customer data as a matter of public safety and national security, or would doing so infringe upon the very freedoms upon which this nation is based?
When the framers of the United States Constitution granted legislative authority to Congress, they envisioned it as the most powerful branch of the federal government. The constitutional role of the president, meanwhile, was to faithfully execute the instructions of Congress. The modern perception of the executive branch is quite different, however, with the head of state often appearing to be the nation’s most powerful policy maker. President Barack Obama certainly asserted his power when he acted unilaterally to defer deportation for millions of immigrants.
In November 2013, I introduced and framed the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on the Second Amendment. The world was very, very different when this amendment was passed. Let me start by just sort of saying what this debate is and is not about.