The benefits of digital surveillance outweigh problems it posses
Mass surveillance was intensified after the 2001 terrorist attack. Therefore, the main aim of this program is to contain or avert terrorism in the United States. Based on this, I believe the benefits of mass surveillance outweigh problems it posses. This paper will discuss the benefits in terms of whether or not terrorism has happened again since it was started. The paper will also consider other aspects such as right to privacy and the ease of establishment.
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Surveillance systems are an option that is effective option. That is, today it is not easy for anyone to get into airports, concerts, as well as public gatherings without being subjected to a number of checks (Gellman 5). Surveillance cameras when combined with other law enforcement measures are more efficient, less intrusive, causes less and psychological disturbance.
The other thing is that mass surveillance can make the lives of people more convenient, by eradicating the necessity for passwords. The mass surveillance program or system itself could be employed for identification as it uses algorithms that are adequately effective (Gellman 2). It could as well do away with long lines of travelers at airports. Mass surveillance expedites searches and it can be employed to detect items that have been outlawed than physical searches.
With reduced crime as a result of mass surveillance, a significant decrease in police work would be observed. It would also reduce the number of security personnel. In fact, the only security people that will be needed are those who do rapid response in the case of a security issue. It is easier to do business in a mass surveillance society. Furthermore, enhanced security patrols would not be needed at events that take place outside. What would be done is simply replacing them with clear signs that would easily identify people directly.
One other sure thing is that, since the twin tower incident in 2001, there has not been any significant attack attributed to terrorism in the United States (Risen and Poitras 1). This success is attributed to the effectiveness of surveillance to prevent terrorism activities. The surveillance system is frequently reviewed and also subject to many safeguards.
Although Snowden indicates that NSA authorizes general warrants for the whole country’s metadata, it must be understood that even though the United States can collect the metadata, the government or agencies responsible cannot sieve through it arbitrarily (Gellman 3). The government can only sift through having received an approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Risen and Poitras 2).
The only major demerits of this system are that of infringement of privacy rights (Gellman 4). However, it must be emphasized that constitutional rights are not absolute and can be limited anytime if there is a public interest that is compelling government to do so. Some of these public interests may include the deterrence of acts of terrorism.
In general, it must be acknowledged that the surveillance systems can make mistakes, although the computers or cameras are not installed to replace people but to help investigators by getting rid of information that is useless. Again, it is not about how many cases of terrorism it has prevented, but how it has helped investigators to access important information that helps them to enhance security.
Whether Edward Snowden was justified or not to leak intelligent information
Snowden an employee of NSA managed to access intelligence information and revealed to the general public. Since the time of release, this issue has been a subject of heated debate in the United States (Risen and Poitras 1). This paper discusses reasons why Snowden was not justified to reveal the information. Some factors to be considered are his intentions, risks involved, and his place of work.
To begin with, being a former employee of NSA he was bound to adhere and respect the oath of secrecy which he willing took (Gellman 1-2). This action represented a serious violation of the core values and code of conduct of NSA. Security matters are always sensitive and as such those who access them have a duty to the citizens and the government.
The leaked information relates to operations of NSA such as the aspect of collecting data from United States phone call records in order to search for any possible connections to terrorists overseas. Also, it involved surveillance of online communications in order to detect suspicious behaviors from foreigners.
Revealing these surveillance programs can easily damage to national security. Revealed information gives terrorists who are actually trying by all means to avoid detection. Now more than ever, Americans are at risk, as the revelations shows their adversaries, what kind of capabilities they have.
Even though most Americans do like their personal information taken by thirty parties, when it comes to security matters, a majority of them support the surveillance system (Risen and Poitras 2). As thing are, mass surveillance is one of the best security measures that can easily keep a trace on not only potential, but also existing threats.
Other measures are highly limited in scope. The major concern by Americans was that their right to privacy as enshrined in the constitution was being violated. However, the government had already assured them that strict protocols were being followed regarding protection of their data.
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It was unjustified as it had the potential to strain the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world. For instance, after the revelation, some foreign governments as well as groups both in Europe and Asia are not very happy with the US. That is, the European Union has laws for data protection and as such does not support mass surveillance.
As a consequence, they may easily re-examine and restrict the data they have been sharing with the United States (Risen and Poitras 4). Asian partners, on the other hand, registered their displeasure with the United States and that they were concerned the data and information collected in the surveillance systems could at one point be employed against them. Most Asia countries share a lot of sensitive data particularly on election using online programs with the US.
In conclusion, surveillance program has a lot of benefits than disadvantages. As it has been seen in the discussion, they help investors and security officers to keep an eye on people who can easily harm the United States. It is not meant to replace the existing security measures but support them. In terms of disclosing intelligence information, Snowden was not justified to do so. The information released was sensitive and could be used by terrorists to escape or advance their cause against Americans.
Gellman, Barton. “Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations,says he accomplished his mission.” The Washington Post (2013): pp. 1-5. Print.
Risen, James and Laura Poitras. “N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens.” The New York Times (2013): pp. 1-6. Print.