Government Surveillance On Citizen Is Harmful And Should Be Banned Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Surveillance, Cyber Crimes, Politics, Government, United States, Citizenship, Security, Law

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/01/27

A number of people and organizations condemn government surveillance on citizens. This is one of much controversial issues in the United States of America. A large number of individuals and organizations protest government surveillance on citizens and find such surveillances against the law. Government authorities, on the other hand, refuse such conjectures and deny any illegal surveillance on citizens. Government vows to abide by the constitutional provisions and provide freedom to US citizens. This paper proposes a discussion on the issue of government surveillance and finds out why government surveillance on citizen is harmful and should be banned.
United States has a long history of surveillance of its citizens or political people. It was alleged that the contemporary American government was spying on martin Luther king Jr. It was later corroborated by a congressional report that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used to wiretap King’s conversation and used to monitor his activities regularly. King’s personal information was used to reduce his popularity, as well as, his social and political activities. FBI also leaked King’s personal information to journalists and King’s opponents (Zelize).
United States agencies have been doing spying and surveillance of US citizens since a long time, but after 9/11 agencies have got the authority to surveillance in name of national security. Telephone calls, e-mails and other monitoring are done by US agencies in an organized manner. A number of media reports corroborate the same and reiterate that US agencies monitor and wiretap millions of calls, mails, messages, pictures and videos every hour. It is alleged by many that US agencies collect more than 2.1 million GB of data every hour (Jones).
American agencies have developed various programs that are technically advanced and co-operate agencies in surveillance activities. Agencies like NSA and FBI have designed various software programs and devices that can monitor activities of anyone even from remote. Software like Carnivore, Echelon and computer programs like CIPAV and Magic Lantern can be installed on anyone’s computer without even accessing them. Emergence of various social networking websites and increasing use of internet has made the tasks of these easier.
Senate intelligence committee members confirm that various government agencies are involved in recording and monitoring of calls, messages, pictures, and other communications under code name of PRISM. National intelligence director of United States, James Clapper acknowledged such surveillance and said that these activities are completely legal and necessary for the national security. Edward Snowden who used to work very closely with National Security Agency of the United States and is completely aware of agency’s working, says, “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded” (Greenwald and MacAskill).
Leaked recordings and personal information of US soldiers and various others suggest that these recordings can be misused by agencies. People, associated with these agencies, can leak and manipulate personal conversations. Government surveillance, recordings and monitoring of citizens can be harmful for citizens and several incidents corroborate this fact. There is no provision that effectively prevents manipulation and misuse of personal information and private data that is gathered by US agencies through government surveillance.
Jim Sensenbrenner, a congressman from Republican Party who authored the “Patriot Act” says that there is no legal ground of such surveillance and it is absolutely an abuse of law. American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) challenged government surveillance in the court and sued government over surveillance programs like PRISM. A FISA court held PRISM legal and dismissed ACLU’s allegations by saying them baseless. ACLU did not buy court’s arguments and findings on this issue. However FISA courts are known and are always criticised for favouring government policies (The Economist).
Individuals, human rights activists and human rights organizations often blame government of illegal spying. They argue that all surveillance programs are in contradiction with provisions of the constitution. They cite various provisions including the Fourth Amendment of the American constitution that reads as “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” (Vile and Hudson, p. 9).
US president Barrack Obama discards allegations of mala fide government surveillance and he welcomes debates on the issue of government surveillance. President assures American citizens that no unnecessary surveillance is happening except the necessary security measures. There is a difference of opinion among Americans on the issue of government surveillance. A large number of people believe that government surveillance invades their privacy and should not be carried out. Many others believe that government surveillance is necessary in order to ensure the safety and security of citizens. They further suggest that only surveillance can prevent incidents like 9/11.
At the same time, the government agencies discard the claims that surveillance are done with mala fide intentions. Agencies say that surveillance programs are done in order to ensure the security of American citizens. Agencies say that national security is not possible without surveillance programs. Senator Harry Reid backs surveillance programs and says that people should not make unnecessary hue and cry. They should understand this is required for national security. Such practices are not new and are in practice since a long time.
US security agencies find them in a peculiar situation on the issue of government surveillance. If they arrange surveillance to ensure safety and security, they are targeted by individuals, media and human rights activists and if they do not take appropriate actions, any unfortunate incident may take place. In today’s times when incidents of terrorism are growing rampantly, security of citizens and United States of America cannot be compromised. Appropriate surveillance and tight security arrangements can only prevent unfortunate incidents like 9/11.
After going through the abovementioned subject and analysis, the paper concludes that government surveillance on citizens is harmful and it should be banned. A number of surveillance programs by US agencies record and monitor telephone calls, messages, texts, mails, pictures and videos every hour. These programs violate different constitutional provisions of the US constitution that grant freedom and privacy to US citizens. Surveillance programs, merely in name of national security, cannot be justified by the government agencies. The government should ensure that any personal data is not being misused by the agencies and all surveillance programs apart from the necessary ones should be immediately banned.

Works Cited

Greenwald, Glenn and MacAskill, Ewen. Edward Snowden, NSA files source: 'If they want to get you, in time they will' . 10 June 2013. The Guardian. 06 April 2015 <>.
Jones, Brian. 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Agency That's Spying On You. 06 June 2013. Business Insider. 06 April 2015 <>.
"Secrets, lies and America’s spies." 15 June 2013. Economist. 06 April 2015 <>.
Vile, John R., and Hudson, David L. Encyclopedia of the Fourth Amendment. California: CQ Press, 2012.
Zelize, Julian. "Don't underestimate risks of government spying." 5 November 5, 2013 2013. CNN. 06 April 2015 <>.

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Government Surveillance On Citizen Is Harmful And Should Be Banned Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - Published Jan 27, 2021. Accessed June 20, 2024.

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