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Privacy and Security

Conversation Guide

With recent revelations about the extent of data collection by the government and private companies, we have heard many concerns about both national security and the lack of privacy we have online. For every person raising alarm at information being collected by the government, it seems someone else is pointing out the value of this information in protecting our nation from terrorism. With all the back and forth, it's hard to know how to feel or what to think. In this conversation, we hope you'll explore where you feel comfortable and listen to the concerns of others. Where do we have common ground? And what, perhaps, are meaningful differences that remain?

Background Information:

While you don't need to be an expert on this topic, sometimes people want background information. Our partner, AllSides, has prepared a variety of articles reflecting multiple sides of this topic.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before you Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

ONE: Why are we here?

What interested you or drew you to this topic?

TWO: Your core values

Answer one or more of the following:

  • What sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
THREE:

What are your biggest concerns about privacy and security?

Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions, and goals.

Answer one or more of the following:

  • How do you see the connection or disconnection between the mass surveillance and national security?
  • Do surveillance and the collection of personal data affect you and your family? If so, how?
  • What is your level of comfort/discomfort with national security?
  • What is the right balance between surveillance and security?
  • Where is this issue on your top 10 list? Why?

FOUR: Reflection

Answer one or more of the following:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?

FIVE: Accomplishment and moving forward

Answer both of the following questions:

  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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