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Has surveillance gone too far? Show more Show less

Post-9/11, there was a sharp increase in the amount that ordinary citizens are watched by the state. Rapidly progressing technologies mean that it is possible to track and watch people like never before. While supporters argue that this is a small price to pay for increased safety and the prevention of terrorism, others claim that increased surveillance is a serious contravention of human rights. Is the way we are now constantly surveilled a step too far?

Yes, surveillance has gone too far. Show more Show less

The cons are greater than the pros, and is too much of a human rights contravention to be acceptable.
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Surveillance is an invasion of privacy

Public surveillance tips the balance of power into the hands of the government and leaves citizens feeling like any and all activities can be used to subvert them. Surveillance today is a slippery slope to even more invasive forms of maintaining social control.
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Context

Surveillance technology interferes with some of our most basic rights

The Argument

Governments and law enforcement have been known to abuse their power using surveillance. Most people feel that a group as powerful as such could easily take advantage of others. There have been cases of blackmail, framing and various scandals which have been caused by observations using technology. For example, after the 9/11 attacks, the President of the United States stated that voting against The Patriot Act (a new American surveillance law) would cause to government to have "immediate suspicion of you in the event of another attack".[1] This caused many citizens to feel as if they were losing their constitutional rights, by being punished unlawfully and without evidence. The majority of the time we are in a public place, we are in some sort of surveillance recording. It has become so normal over the last decade that most of the time we do not even think to look for them, although most are hidden. Social media is also a form of surveillance, as any information posted has the ability to be seen by almost anyone in the world by potential employers, schools, law enforcement, etc. As technology adapts, it becomes harder to maintain the freedom of privacy. More sinister situations, such as being recorded by another person in the form of stalking, also exist and are reported every single day. The general public having access to surveillance will only endanger society as a whole.

Counter arguments

If someone has not committed a crime, realistically they do not have anything to worry about when it comes to surveillance. Fear of being punished or convicted of a crime usually comes from a guilty conscience, such as when the person knows what it is they would be in trouble for.

Framing

Premises

[P1] People should not be recorded without their consent [P2] Individuals in powerful leadership positions have the potential to abuse their power [P3] The public worries that this could lead to charges against them or various issues in their lives.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] Surveillance is considered to be hard evidence, and regardless of the intentions or circumstances of the charges against someone, whoever committed the crime will be the one to experience the consequences. [Rejecting P3] Some find surveillance comforting, as it makes them feel more protected and aware.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.aclu.org/other/surveillance-under-usapatriot-act

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This page was last edited on Friday, 5 Jun 2020 at 01:37 UTC