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The Drawbacks of Government Surveillance

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As technology is increasing and becoming more powerful so is the ability for people to hack into cell phones or computers and steal crucial information. Information like phone numbers, contacts, addresses, credit/debit card numbers or medical records. But what if it was being done by the very government you are supposed to believe is protecting you? Surveillance from the government and its agencies is not right. It infringes on basic citizen rights, creates a distrust in the government and does not help catch terrorists.

Firstly surveillance from the government without reason is illegal. A wiretap on a phone is only allowed in a criminal investigation when a judge rules a court order after being presented with probable cause or a suspicion of wrongdoing. When the government looks through a citizens internet traffic they have no court order, no warrant and most of the time not even a suspicion of wrongdoing. Also the government uses this data and in certain cases citizens have been locked out of their bank accounts, unable to board planes or restricted from certain job types because they have been deemed as a threat. This information can be held for years and the government can do whatever they want with it. Lastly when someone is on the internet or on a website and they enter sensitive information like bank passwords or credit card numbers, it is private, knowledge only to be known by the original owner. When the government spies on someone and gathers this information that is a puncture off privacy. Spying on citizens is illegal, the government has no court order most of the time, the information they gather can be used to restrict a citizen of services and it breaks a confidential privacy pact when someone goes online, this is why surveillance hurts.

Secondly state surveillance does not actually help catch terrorists. The Bush administration set up a programme called Stellarwind. It was a computer system that searched through tons of online databases looking for patterns that coincide with terrorism. It then notified FBI agents and they were supposed to investigate. The system tipped them off so often and the leads were so useless that the FBI officers actually said “it’s sending us complete garbage.” Secondly the amount of useful leads found and used from online surveillance from the years 2004 to 2007 were absolutely zero. Lastly the chances of a computer spitting out a terrorist’s name is almost impossible. Tracking patterns online is not enough to catch a criminal mastermind. Unless they literally type “how to make a bomb big enough for the Boston Marathon” a computer is not going to be able to analyze a human being’s patterns and emotions before committing an act of terrorism. It takes real people out there collecting data the proper unfiltered way with court orders and warrants to catch the evil of society, not a couple algorithms and commands set up on a motherboard.

Lastly surveillance creates a distrust in the government. The NSA is a large US government organization supposed to protect its citizens from the dangers of terrorism. But is usually viewed negatively. The NSA makes people think of men in black suits with dark sunglasses taking family members away to a top secret location to interrogate them. They are never seen as the protectors of the country defending bombings every day and putting their lives on the line for the benefit of others. Secondly if the government is watching everything you do in your daily life how is one supposed to not worry about what they do while online? If the FBI can turn on your webcam while you are typing up an essay you are going to start to not trust them. Some people even get mad at the government for this and it makes them a target of the very same system they are trying to fight. Lastly people do not want to be listened to. The thought of ‘Big Brother’ listening to every one of your conversations is not a good thought. It makes some people mad at the government and others fearful of what they say and do. Something that a citizen does in the privacy of their own home is their business and no one else’s.

In conclusion surveillance is bad because it infringes on human rights, it creates a distrust in the government and it is not proven to catch any terrorists or stop attacks. Surveillance is only going to get worse. Technology was originally made to make lives easier and better as a whole. Not to be used as a weapon against the people who made it. With the ability to view anyone they want the government should be feared. The only thought that can make one feel better about the surveillance system is “well at least I have nothing to hide”. The surveillance is supposed to protect citizens. But all it is doing is giving the government personal information and giving them the permission to do what they want with it and release it to whomever they want. The problem is only going to get worse before it gets better. It is something that the whole world has to get used to and learn to live with.

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The Drawbacks Of Government Surveillance. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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