Free Research Paper About Surveillance And People’s Feeling Of Human Rights
Increasing crime rates in the modern world have made countries implement modern technological and advanced equipments and techniques to maintain their security. Countries, both developed and developing have implemented surveillance techniques in their systems to control crimes and other activities that impact the security of the nation. Although surveillance has numerous benefits in preventing and detecting crime, human right activists argue that it interferes with individual’s privacy. Human rights tend to ignore the number of benefits surveillance brings to the country and concentrates on issues of privacy. The following analysis focuses on relationship between surveillance and human rights focusing on United States and Saudi Arabia countries. The state should take responsibility for government surveillance to allow citizens accept the advantage of implementing surveillance systems while at the same time observing their human rights.
United States is one of the leading countries in the implementation of surveillance technology. Surveillance systems are of great importance to the life of people because of their efficiency in preventing and detecting crime. The most common implementation in the surveillance systems is on vehicle monitoring, human detection, and monitoring of critical non-movable assets. The state uses surveillance in areas such as airports, offices, banks, institutions, borders, and along main highways. The present technology has replaced traditional analog surveillance systems with the modern equipments that use high-definition cameras and high-sensitive sound capturing devices for clear observation and transmission of information. Additionally, digital video surveillance offers a more flexible image process and transmission to government security control centers. On the other hand, the modern advanced surveillance equipments have features capable of detecting motion, tracking objects and recognition of faces (Peng 2).
Benefits of surveillance
Surveillance has helped beef up security in United States since its introduction. With the system in place, the government can easily detect vehicle carrying explosive devices; detect suspicious behavior that could lead to violence or crime, or financial losses; and discover individual breaking the law through accessing restricted areas. US passed a policy demanded a total surveillance state after continuous attacks by enemies through terrorism and war. Mass surveillance by the US state security assists in combating all kinds of crimes and abuses. Additionally, reduced crime leads to a reduction in police work, slashing the government’s budget of recruiting new police officers. On the other hand, the US government called for the total implementation of surveillance systems throughout the country to assist deal with smaller and more conventional disasters. The government aims at ensuring people know their neighbors to make it easier for identifying enemies with objectives of committing crimes. Finally, surveillance makes it easier for security officers to guard people in offices and during major festivals. Operating in a mass surveillance society makes it easier for security personnel to identify individuals are entering and leaving various premises through the help of surveillance cameras (Armstrong).
Surveillance-US government v. the people’s perspective
The government introduced the surveillance system to better the lives of the people of United States, but more and more debates have evolved concerning the suitability of surveillance due to privacy. The government argues surveillance is the best solution to security problems faced by the country. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described technology as a powerful tool for promoting democracy because it allows participation of everyone in the society. However, overuse of technology through data mining by intelligence agencies expands the real function of technology from legitimate surveillance to mass surveillance. The US government supports mass surveillance claiming it helps save citizens from external threats. If the government accepts the call by human rights’ commission to take control of surveillance to ensure it does not interfere with people’s privacy, the government will only secure the privacy of Americans but leave them vulnerable to external intrusion from other governments (White 5).
One of the government arguments for the implementation of surveillance is the maintenance of national security and public safety. Additionally, surveillance helps keep the government and people from effects of external influences. In order to protect the privacy of Americans and ensure their safety, the government introduced two bills: the PROTECT-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. The two bills aimed at restricting people outside US from hosting unwanted materials to US citizens (Freedom of the Net). The current debate on government surveillance and human rights commission on people’s privacy shows that the government needs to carry out a complete reform of the existing surveillance. During the National Security Agency Debate, US President, Obama, called for an end of mass surveillance. The Congress also introduced a proposal to reform the government’s surveillance powers (Wittes).
The value of privacy
Privacy forms the most problematic right when compared to others represented by domestic and international rights bodies. Some people argue that privacy does not fall under the category of rights, but many take privacy as something of great value. Privacy remains one of the most challenging introducing hot debates from sociologists, lawyers, and philosophers. Privacy of a person is an important element and should be totally respected by other people in the society. Privacy of a person cannot be valued because it Lack of public access towards personal information is harming and deliberating to the victim. On the other hand, the value of privacy touches on more fundamental and critical issue of human life. Losing one’s personal information to unwanted parties is equivalent to losing one’s control over life and dignity. Human rights activities fight for the protection of citizen’s privacy to protect the misuse of personal information.
Privacy based on people’s point of view
The government through different institutions has the responsibility of ensuring individual information is protected from access by unwanted persons and without the consent of the owner. Some of the most sensitive private information requiring protection includes medical records, interviews, court records, psychological tests, financial records, and welfare records. The relationship between the individual and the government or any other organization responsible for protecting their privacy has major consequences on individual’s point of view. Unless the government assesses the impact of surveillance on maintaining individual privacy values, the society will never understand the importance of surveillance in relation to other matters such as national security (Wright, and Hert 381). Additionally, the society claims government surveillance of people brings more harms than benefits. People propose that the government should get rid of all surveillances and allow people to move freely without being supervised by machines.
Although the government argues that there is no need for privacy if a person is doing the correct action while in public places, people completely differ with the argument. When asked, many people say they need a personal zone where they can have their time without the interference of third parties. While writing about the value of privacy, Stossel claimed privacy is a thing of the past. The computer-driven society ignores the value of privacy because people no longer enjoy securing their information on computers. The National Security Agency (NSA) has the right to all information communicated by all Americans. People’s points of view no longer have any significance when it comes to issues of national security. Even though government surveillance keeps an eye on all activities happening across the country, they have less interest in individual privacy unless it is a threat to the national security. After the 9/11 event, US established the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to assist in drawing the line between civil liberties and national security (Harpern 1). The report from the board indicated that data intercepted from individual conversations play a significant role in protecting national security and promoting foreign intelligence (Halpern 2). The government has to set limits towards exercising privacy rights by citizens.
Link between surveillance and people awareness of human rights
Government surveillance goes against cultures of many societies in America. Traditionally privacy was a critical and respectable thing. People who interfered with other’s privacy faced the full force of the law. Recent cases of terrorism and other forms of crimes reported in United States made the government seek techniques of ensuring all activities occur under the close watch of security agents. Despite the fact the surveillance goes against the culture of many American, it forms the most appropriate way of protecting and preventing crime. It was not until the year 2013 when citizens became aware of digital surveillance practiced by the government. People believe that the digital surveillance helps the government monitor all activities happening through the internet. Mass surveillance practices are a threat to human rights according to Commission of Human Rights. It goes against personal freedom, submits people to state control, and slows down planned progresses in the society. Surveillance brings the topic to the importance of privacy.
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution law recognizes privacy as a fundamental right (York 29). The government tries to adhere to the Fourth Amendment, but investigations by Wiki Leaks and other investigative media revealed unusual surveillance practices performed by the government behind the scenes. The public became aware of their rights to privacy through digital surveillance and pressured the government to limit surveillance to areas that have no any interference with individual privacy. According to report by Frank La Rue in 2013 to the United Nations, unwarranted interference with the person’s privacy directly or indirectly limits their freedom to participate in development projects (York 30). Additionally, the internet culture has undergone a dramatic change in the realization of the government’s powers to gather information communicated through the internet. People withdraw from sharing their personal information on the internet in fear of being intercepted by other parties. York (31) observed that internet users no longer keep browsing history or cookies after visiting internet pages to avoid observation by the government, organization, or specific people.
Impact of surveillance on people’s ability of free speech
The situation in USA
United States is the freest country allowing access to the internet compared to any other country in the world. The government offers limited restrictions to internet users in relation to accessing and publishing information online. Additionally, the state constitution gives American citizens freedom of speech. Government regulations introduced recently, however, have limited internet policy with respect to privacy and surveillance. Leaked information to The Guardian revealed massive surveillance by National Security Agency on internet activities and phone records of US citizens and other people worldwide (Freedom on the Net).
The situation in Saudi Arabia (KSA)
Unlike United States, Saudi Arabian citizens have no freedom of speech on the online portal. All internet and communication activities take place under close surveillance of the government. Citizens of Saudi Arabia never care about government regulation on freedom of speech and continue expressing their views and thoughts through the internet. Cases of activists arrested for free speech on online portals are very common in Saudi Arabia. The most common case involved Blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced for ten year and one thousand slashes for posting abusive message towards Islam communities. Saudi Arabia does not allow freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or freedom of the internet (Freedom House).
The United States does not feel strong and secure from the freedom of speech because the government conducts undercover missions to investigate communications made by citizens through phone and the internet. On the other hand, Saudi Arabians have little knowledge about free speech and human rights because their constitution does not protect them from free speech. People claim their rights by stating “We have the right to our privacy and freedom of expression.”
The surveillance practices used in US and KSA affects citizen’s perspectives on their rights. Whereas US citizens have freedom of expression because of limited regulation on the use of the internet, KSA citizens have no right to express their ideas and thoughts through the internet or phone conversations. Saudi Arabia focuses on preventing terrorism and external attacks by conducting surveillance of online communications between citizens inside and outside the country. Conducting surveillance of people’s private conversations interferes with their rights to privacy, and both governments should set surveillance limits to promote growth and development.
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