Technology has facilitated the evolution of digital surveillance and privacy resulting in the infringement of privacy rights.
Digital surveillance and the infringement of privacy rights
Digital surveillance and the infringement of privacy rights
The advancements in technology have led to improved surveillance that is important in combating the modern problems like crime and terrorism. There are suggestions that governments and some individuals are misusing these technologies to stalk people, even those that do not engage in vices. This is an infringement on one of the fundamental rights of individuals, as stated in the constitutions of most nations in the world today. The question that arises is the way the governments can balance surveillance on individuals to ensure that they only follow the ones that are a threat to national security and do not infringe on privacy rights of the others. This paper aims to discuss digital surveillance and infringement of privacy rights.
The modern world has technological advancements aimed at making the lives of human beings easier. While many people only know the ways to use these devices to achieve their objectives, they are unaware that the government uses them for surveillance services. According to Barrett, Herrera, and Baumann (2011), most people think that surveillance is a conspiracy theory that is only available in most movies. What they fail to understand is that these films are based on the normal lives of people. Although some things maybe exaggerated, a substantial part reflects the society. To some extent, the films depicting the roles of governments in surveillance in movies act distractions to the people because they deem them as just fiction.
Bardes, Shelly, and Schmidt (2008) claim that the government has been using surveillance technologies on its citizens. There are many surveillance programs citizens do not know about yet the government actively uses them. Most of these programs are heard when they are leaked to media. It is interesting to note that these systems are used within the country and even when a person is outside the country. Bardes, Shelly, and Schmidt (2008) state that the American government, through NASA, had a system to investigate individuals who traveled abroad. Federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Central Intelligence Agency used this system to check all individuals traveling aboard after which they investigated those individuals to determine if they were terrorists or collaborating with terrorists. Most of the people never knew they were being investigated and the thought that they might have been scrutinized dawned to them when the system was leaked.
The issue of spying on citizens raises more questions than answers. According to the United States Constitution, all people have the freedom of expression and civil liberties (Abele, 2005). Based on this constitutional right, there have been questions on whether governments trump on it when they spy on citizens or not. The truth is that the government illegally spies on the people they suspect. Usually, when there is a suspect, the agencies should obtain warrants to search those individuals and maybe seize anything they deem important to build a case against them. The way the government is doing things is wrong and should strategize on the ways to address the security issue in the country (Abele, 2005).
The actions of the government in spying on its citizens center around the Patriotic Acts one and two that were meant to ensure that the 9/11 terrorist-like attacks do not occur again in the future (Abele, 2005). Whereas it is the responsibility of the government to guarantee security to all its citizens, it should follow the due process in its quests. Solove (2011) and Stefoff (2007) claim that privacy and security are conflicting issues in these times where terrorism has become a global problem. The question that arises is what the citizens have to sacrifice between the two for the greater good. There are suggestions that the two factors work interchangeably, whereby, increased privacy leads to insecurity and decreased privacy leads to increased security (Solove, 2011). Based on this revelation, some people believe that the government should continue spying on the citizens because is one of the best ways of guaranteeing security. Others dispute that stating that it is constitutionally right for people to do their things in private (Stefoff, 2007).
In conclusion, it is clear that technological advancements have led to the debate between privacy and security. This controversial issue has become the order of the day in the current dynamic world. When terrorists attacked America in September 2011, the government knew that it was important to be on the look out to prevent such cases in the future. Years later, it emerged that the government was using sophisticated surveillance systems to spy on the citizens. Some people are against this practice while others believe that it is the only way to guarantee security. Looking at the constitutional rights, what the government does is wrong. It should follow the due process specified by the constitution when there is a suspect. In addition, there are other strategies the government can use to ensure security within the country. The greatest task the government will face is balancing between the two, whereby, it guarantees security without infringing on the privacy of the citizens.
Abele, R.P. (2005). A User’s Guide to the USA Patriot Act and Beyond. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Bardes, B., Shelly, M., & Schmidt, S. (2008). American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials 2008. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Barrett, O.B., Herrera, D., & Baumann, J.A. (2011). Hollywood and the CIA: Cinema, Defense and Subversion. Abingdon, Oxon, England; New York, N.Y.: Taylor & Francis.
Solove, D.J. (2011). Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Stefoff, R. (2007). Security Versus Privacy, Volume 24. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish.
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