Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Departmental Honors



Committee Chair(s)

Shannon Peterson


Shannon Peterson


John Ferguson


Kristine Miller


As technology advances businesses are being called upon to take an active role in helping protect national security. A variety of different companies and industries within the private sector, which are at the forefront of encryption and hacking technologies, have the option to aid or subvert the intelligence community by sharing breakthrough technology in the interest of helping ensure domestic tranquility.

Many industries and companies within the private sector argue that while they are not actively trying to subvert efforts to protect national security it is not in their best interest, or the best interest of their customers, to hand over proprietary technology to the intelligence community through government enforcement of a court order. As a result of the intelligence community's need for assistance from the private sector and the private sectors refusal to provide aid, both parties have turned to the courts for adjudication of the issue.

The ensuing legal battle over this question of who is responsible for protecting national security will forever change the relationship between the private sector and intelligence. Has the nature of national security been fundamentally changed as the result of technology and our information society? More specifically, is the intelligence community and other governmental agencies solely responsible for protecting national security? Or, in an age of globalization, has national security become the burden of both public and private actors?

The answers to these questions are complex and at the same time straightforward. What was discovered was that while the burden of national security falls to both the public and private sector to an extent. However, it is not the responsibility of the private sector to help protect national security by virtue of providing the intelligence community with proprietary technology or information that could compromise the integrity of a given companies business. Furthermore, the fight to protect national security is important, living in a country that provides certain safety assurances helps businesses grow; but when providing that safety prevents people from living their lives or businesses from operating at their full potential the enemy that the intelligence community is trying to protect us from has already won.

In developing the answers to these questions, this paper takes a broad view of the players involved as well as both sides of the legal battle that has already begun. will end with a discussion of the options and opportunities that will be available to both parties as the battle over who should be responsible for helping protect our national security moves forward in the courts.