That resonates with many. Amos Guiora, a University of Utah law professor who also is a research fellow at the International Institute on Counter-Terrorism, said care should be taken before using a broad-brush approach to national security and counterterrorism.
"There is this tendency to say whatever the executive (branch) needs, the executive gets. That is a troubling view," Guiora said.
But Swedin said U.S. citizens should check their indignation at the gate. He said the Patriot Act was supported by most Americans after 9/11 and the revelations this week provide a reality check that many are now uncomfortable with.
"I think what should really bother people is that they have illusions about their own personal privacy and they need to get over those illusions," he said. "We need to get past that illusion of privacy to have a more functional society and better protections, and those protections come from transparency."
He said the bigger issue of concern should be government transparency. If the government, for example, has compiled personal information on individuals, the government should make that information available to all.
"Government has to be more revealing about what they do with the data and what they know about people."
When the United States follows the way of Great Britain with its closed-circuit television cameras capturing all manner of residents' movements — which Swedin predicts will someday be next — the federal government should say it has those videos and let the public view them as well.
"You are trusting law enforcement and government to only use that in positive ways and that means you are trusting an entity of power to self-police, and I don't believe in that," he said.
That was Utah resident Jason O'Keefe's concern.
"How do you put in checks and balances and keep it from getting out of control?" he questioned, "especially since sometimes that can lead to abuse of power and other violations."
Swedin said rather than U.S. citizens engaging in the hand-wringing angst of safeguarding privacy, he said they should embrace societal and government transparency.
"This thought is that it is a safer, more secure society if people know more about each other. It flies entirely in the face of our instinctive reality that this (information) should be private."
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