With the recent waves of terror attacks all over the world and the resulting government inquiries, changes in policy and increased security measures, a lot of discussion is being held about to what extent a government may or may not impede on the rights of the public in order to protect that same public.

How much privacy could civilians have in their personal communications? May civilians be permitted to have secrets even the government cannot uncover? Is the possession of military-grade or military-derived weapons by the public acceptable? These are all questions that come up from time to time when faced with adversity from terrorism.

Many countries have been targeted by these attacks. In recent months, France, Belgium, the USA and many countries in Africa, the Middle East and East Asia have been the target of terrorist attacks. All of them have either implemented new measures or talked about implementing them, some of them with good results, others not so much. The question is whether it's possible for a government prevent all terror attacks without infringing on the human rights that many of us have come to enjoy.

There are a lot of people that are thinking about this matter, and it appears to be a valid subject matter for this site. It may not be based around a fictional world, but I feel like it's something that can be relevant for fictional worlds facing similar terrorism struggles.

Can a government prevent all terror attacks without infringing on basic human rights (let's assume the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a baseline)? If not, can the government take steps to reduce the chance of these attacks or the impacts they cause?


closed as off-topic by Serban Tanasa Jul 15 '16 at 13:56

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    $\begingroup$ How is this a subject for Worldbuilding? The letter of the question is easy to answer though: no, it is impossible. Especially attacks by loners are impossible to create a comprehensive safety net against. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jul 15 '16 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKarnerfors I realize that because this is based on current events, the link with Worldbuilding is a little bit tenuous. It's not based on a fictional world or setting. However, the question can be a good source of information for people trying to work terror and the government response to it into their work of fiction. I expected the subject of this question to be controversial, but I did not see the need for a meta question to first clear the air on whether it would be appropriate. I find that often the answer to such question is "ask the question, and see the reactions." $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jul 15 '16 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ There's a politics board that might suit this better. Also the answer is no, you can't stop the lone wolf who buys a car or truck and drives it into a crowd, no matter what security you put in place. You simply cannot stop all terrorist attacks. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 15 '16 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix Now why didn't I think of that board... Is it possible to migrate questions over somehow? $\endgroup$ – Nzall Jul 15 '16 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Nzall, it's possible to migrate questions but I think it needs moderator attention to do so $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 15 '16 at 11:00

Not unless you have time travel or non-invasive detection of explosives over large areas.


I would say if you have a big-brother style government, that monitors literally everything, then it could be plausible, but that still is unlikely to cover everything

in reality it MIGHT be possible if you have a stupid amount of security for everything


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