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Do government’s surveillance technologies invade our privacy?

Have you ever felt aggravated if you think someone is invading your privacy? Well, privacy has been a concern since the evolution of mankind. We have all gone through a phase where we didn’t want others to see what we were doing or look through our personal things. This means that they are invading our personal space. Even animals have personalities and they keep things private from others like their food or prey they have captured and they wouldn’t want anyone else to steal or eat it. In this modern world, we have always seen CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras when we are in public and we would occasionally ponder, “is there somebody really watching me?” and some people might act little differently when they see it; they might be a bit more obedient for no reason or a child would make a silly face at the camera. Other ways the governments invade our privacy is when they wiretap us, this is a very serious issue especially when they do it without warrants. How would you feel if you were being listened secretly without even knowing about it? Moreover, do you think all residents of a country should give their DNA to the government? Is the development of surveillance technologies headed in the right direction?
CCTVs are all over big cities because it provides excellent security precautions and good proof to prosecute criminals. However, there are many people who think these cameras ban their freedom in public, but only some speak out and do something. In the UK there are CCTVs everywhere, in fact 4.2 million in the whole country and 500,000 in the city of London, according to Wikipedia. This indicates that the UK is very cautious when it comes to security and safety but another side shows that the British people are continuously on “Big Brother”. In the USA, there aren’t many CCTVs as in the UK but there were almost 3000 CCTVs in New York City and 2200 in Chicago in 1998. However, after the wake of the 9/11 attacks they increased the security systems rapidly to avoid future carnage and they launched the war on terrorism. Sure, we really don’t want another terrorist attack but being filmed whenever you step on the pavement does invade one’s private space. When we see a camera, we often look at it and think that it moderately takes away our freedom to be who we are because we sometimes do not want others to see us. In the UK, it might have gone too far with their reality CCTV. A company called, Digital Bridge television service, have given the option to their subscribers to watch CCTVs in their neighborhood and look out for crime happening. If a viewer saw a crime on their TV they would report the incident to the police. This seems like a good strategy because the government would need less people to watch their cameras and it is given to a wide range of people across the country. Although, it does seem like a horrible way to take away our freedom in public because we do not want to be watched by a person sitting on their couch in their living room. It isn’t just CCTVs that the governments invade us with they also wiretap.
Wiretapping or telephone tapping is when a person monitors a phone call or internet conversation between people. The police and government mainly do this. They always need a warrant from the court to wiretap someone legally. Still, doesn’t it seem very sly that a person is secretly listening to what you are saying when you are talking to your friend? It just feels like this world and the governments who we trust are betraying us. There was a big controversy in USA called the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy. The NSA is the National Security Agency in the States. This controversy was part of the ‘War on Terror’ which President Bush launched. The NSA launched a plan to monitor phone calls, text messages, e-mails, internet activity and other communication activities associated with foreign countries without warrants. This showed how the US would do anything possible to avoid any future terrorist activity. The US citizens didn’t find out they were doing this until 2005 when it was reported in the New York Times. Obviously, if someone found out a person from the government was listening to you, they would be infuriated. Can you believe the government was doing something illegal? But we can’t prosecute them because it was the president who authorized this and we are supposed to ignore it.
Another kind of technology that government uses which invades our privacy is DNA sampling. In the US, UK and many other countries the police and governments only hold peoples DNA if they were convicted felons. This seems like a very good source for security because if they find DNA in a crime scene, it would most likely to be somebody who was a convicted felon. This seemed very fair and we can’t blame them about this. However, in the United Arab Emirates, the government is planning to collect DNA samples from all residents as part of their DNA database project. This does seem like an invasion of privacy because why should people who are innocent give their DNA to the government? It only seems right if they take a sample from felons because they did something wrong and they should pay for it by helping the police give their DNA for future references. Many people do not want the government to hold so much of their identity. Although, this idea would make the criminal investigations and to find suspects much easier but it is very arguable that this is also taking away our privacy.
Is the development of surveillance technologies affecting our lives? Yes it is, it’s changing our environment drastically and only a few will notice this change. Do they know that we all have the privilege of having the human right of privacy? Yes they do. Nonetheless they are just snatching it away from us. Most of us think that we live in a wonderful planet but we hardly ever think about the other side; when the governments introduce new surveillance technologies we would always have in mind that this would keep us safe from evil but do we ever look at how it’s affecting us, the innocent?
If you wish to get more involved and get more information, you can log on to: www.privacy.org



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Abraham.joseph said...
May 18, 2010 at 5:58 am:
Great job on your project.  You'll never see the world the same again! Ha ha.  Interesting research! Thanks.
 
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Abraham.joseph said...
May 18, 2010 at 5:35 am:
very nice article, you went in great detail of the pro's and cons of CCTV's
 
BenTheBYM replied...
Apr. 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm :
i agree with  you. The author of this article explained his thoughts with detail and gave good reasons for his thoughts.
 
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Abraham.joseph said...
May 18, 2010 at 4:49 am:
Very good article, really opened my eyes to the constant surveillance that we are under by the Governmeny 5/5 great work
 
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