Are we really free? Thinking about GCHQ and Privacy.



I remember once sitting in a lecture/discussion about whether we are totally free or not. What is freedom? How is it ensured in society? This last week’s events concerning privacy breaches through the GCHQ/NSA program have highlighted some of our deepest convictions about true freedom and privacy (Read the full story here). Whether the allegations are true or not about these government authorities gaining access to our web data remains to be seen. But it does force us to question how we view freedom and how we balance the priority of freedom with the priority of security.

Barak Obama had an interesting thing to say about this balance:

“I think it’s important to recognise that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” the president noted. “Were going to have to make some choices as a society.”

Privacy, at least in my understanding, is a part of the larger concept of freedom. And apparently, it is a part of our “Human Rights” to have privacy. But is anyone totally free?

When it comes to the Governments trying to maximise security in order that we are safe, who are we, as the general public, captive of? Are we captives of the Government or the security threats? Yes, there is a “I’d prefer one over the other” aspect to this question, but there is no getting away from the fact that we are a captive to something.

In a theological sense, the Bible teaches that our freedom is limited. This of course is in relation to sin and Jesus. Romans 6 says that we are either a slave to sin, or a slave to righteousness.  You can read the whole passage here.

Thinking about that then, do you think we are not able to be totally free because of the responsibility that creates for us? Is true freedom too dangerous? Does our captivity go beyond our captors? Does our freedom come with caveats?

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @

  • KD

    Note how we are expected to accept multiculturalism and the vague notion of “tolerance” without question – although it’s as clear as the sky is blue that not all principles and doctrines are compatible with one another. Which is acknowledged whenever a politician says they are trading off our liberty for security. But if not all principles are compatible then the core idea behind multiculturalism and “tolerance” is false – thought you won’t get Cameron or Obama standing up and saying that out loud!