By contributor Dean Pelkey

fraserEach year, the Fraser Institute holds an essay contest for students designed to encourage and develop student writers. This contest gives you the opportunity to showcase your ideas on public policy and the roles of markets, plus the opportunity to win cash prizes.

With over $9k in cash prizes, students from all levels of study are encouraged to enter, and there is a special category for high school students.

This year’s topic is National Security and the Role of Government: Safety vs. Privacy in a Technological Age. Since the beginning of the 21st century, government surveillance and access to citizens’ private information has climbed to unprecedented levels, from intrusive screenings at the airport to CCTV cameras to domestic drones and data collection. Politicians, law enforcement, and military personnel have defended these security initiatives, saying they are essential in preserving and enhancing national security in a post-9/11 world. Yet, opponents argue that their right to individual privacy is being violated. Can privacy and security co-exist, and which should take precedence? To what extent should governments be allowed to monitor their citizens in the name of protecting the general public, and through what measures? Do these domestic surveillance programs actually keep us safer?

Essays should draw from modern day events and use historical evidence (as opposed to hypothetical theories). Writers may examine different methods of surveillance, the extent to which they are used, and how they affect national security and privacy. You may wish to argue whether or not concerns about national security ought to trump individual privacy, what the implications are of future security initiatives, or perhaps examine other questions related to privacy and surveillance. Examples do not have to be Canadian, but must support the position with empirical analysis. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.

The Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest 2015 is sponsored by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation.

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, and ties to a global network of 86 think tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. To find out more, call 1-800-665-3558 or visit their website.