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The debate on the use of technology still rages unabated. On one hand, technology has paved the way to a change, a change that virtually all people have welcomed. With this technological progress, the world seems reduced in size and terms like ‘global village’ have sprouted as a result to describe how connected people are in contemporary times.
Things have become simplified; however, as the old adage asserts, ‘when the deal is too good, people ought to think twice.’ Although, technology is highly used for security purposes by almost all countries, it has in turn violated the initially prevailing individual privacy rights.
As online services continue to blossom, gadgets, which cannot distinguish a private, and/or personal from a public package have arisen in the name of improving the security sector. Since people have the right to privacy, the end thereof is not warranted by the means owing to the corresponding impact.
The government is not justified in using technology that may violate individual privacy in its security endeavors because, “People have the right to traverse the streets and parks of the DC without being under scrutiny of Chief Ramsey and the FBI” (Parenti, 2002, p. 432). Should the government break human rights the name of beefing up security?
Even though the government seeks to enhance the safety of its people through the establishment of the surveillance machines, which is a right move, it fails to consider how the move interferes with peoples’ right to privacy. As a result, it loses the justification in using the technology because with the establishment of surveillance gadgets strategically located all over, along streets, inside buildings, and vehicles, information concerning people is currently being gathered on a continuous basis.
Though peoples’ security is the intended outcome, there lacks a clear cut line between the kind of information, that ought to and the one that ought not to be collected. As Parenti (2002) exposits, “…when police watch a person with a high-powered intelligent camera…they are in effect conducting an unwarranted and unconstitutional search” (p. 432).
Since the camera collects information of all people regardless of rank, there is a high possibility of arousing disputes from prominent people based on the revelation of their private or personal information. For instance, if President Obama’s privacy were publicized, would the world be at peace? Chesterman (2010) comes in handy to answer this when he says, “If we surrender our liberty in the name of security, we shall have neither” (p. 2). Political reasons deprive the government of this justification as elaborated next.
Following the massive and uncontrolled information gathering, the government may seek to satisfy its political desires by falsely following up the whereabouts of a person, who seems to pose a political challenge. This is no more than an abuse of the available technology, which cannot justify the government use of it. John Adams, a former American president offers the best illustration of this issue. Kaminer (2002) says that, “John Adams supported the Alien and sedition acts which… was used to imprison his political foes” (p. 436).
Moreover, the issue of the former President Bush to arrest all the immigrants at the dawn of September 11 terrorism implies a predisposed collection procedure in the sense that, majority of those detected as having participated in the bombing were not even connected to the attack.
It therefore stands out that government crime detection criteria are subject to biasness and may be employed in favor of some hidden political agenda like chasing away the immigrants or fighting against some political enemies, whose private information has been accessed and then used to weaken him/her politically.
While the fight against terrorism may be the fuel behind the use of technology by the government, the government is to a large extend unjustified owing to the inability of computer programs to perfectly identify the nature of the person being investigated, whether a student, a spy, or a terrorist.
Therefore, as an alternative, the government ought to modify the surveillance gadgets so that they can tell a terrorist from a group of innocent people. These programs, by investigating the peoples’ privacy go past FISA’s limitations and at the same time defying the peoples’ privacy rights.
As Posner (2006) observes “…the problem with FISA is that the surveillance it authorizes is unusable to discover who is a terrorist, as distinct from eaves dropping on known terrorist…” (p. 446). This is a clear implication that even after the privacy investigations by the government, a lot is required in order to avoid the evident inaccuracies which have left many suspected and detained, though absolutely innocent.
Considering the aforementioned expositions, it suffices to declare the government unjustified in its endeavors to use technology as a way of boosting the security sector. Though it is a working criterion, the other side cannot be ignored. The method has gone against the rights of individual as far as their privacy is concerned.
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As a result, a balance ought to be struck between privacy and security because the two are equally basic; therefore, the government has no reason to major on security leaving the privacy section unattended bearing in mind that, privacy is a right and need only to be accessed under one’s consent. Since this is not the procedure applied by the government, it is therefore not justified to use the technology, which violates the privacy of its people in its bid to keep them safe.
Chesterman, S. (2010). A Little Less Privacy, a Bit More Security. The New York Times, pp. 2.
Kaminer, W. (2002). Trading Liberty for Illusions. Spring: Free Inquiry.
Parenti, C. (2002). DC’s Virtual Panopticon. The Nation, pp. 432.
Posner, R. (2006). Wire Trap: The New Republic. The New Republic: LLC, pp. 446.