Briefcase: National Security and Personal Privacy

An interview with Assistant Professor Emily Berman


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Recent acts of violence have heightened concerns about individuals inspired by extremist ideology. Assistant Professor Emily Berman teaches national security law at the University of Houston Law Center and realizes there are concerns about the government's ability to protect Americans from these so-called "lone wolves."

"Lone wolves are certainly a threat. However, it is impossible to predict whether someone with extremist views will actually turn to violence," she said. "So it's important to be careful that the desire for increased security doesn't cause us to undermine individual rights, like freedom of speech."

Professor Berman's work focuses on improving oversight of U.S. surveillance policy. She says it can be difficult to protect against this threat without endangering individual rights

"Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet," she said. "But the key is to subject all counterterrorism policies that could affect our individual rights, like surveillance, to active congressional oversight and to demand transparency from government officials."