Government surveillance is evidently witnessed in the daily life events of United States citizens. Cameras have experienced setting up to monitor the citizens' compliance with mainly the traffic laws. These cameras track the comings and goings of residents on the city streets, office buildings and banks, shopping malls, and the entry points of every government building (Deflem & McDonough, 2015). These efforts are a consequence of the September 11 bombings in 2001 that considerably modified the rules set towards the citizens privacy. Due to this, came the realization of crime globalization and terrorism, which served as justifications for the establishment of the Orwellian state (Robis, 2014). The modernization of technology has enabled the United States government to monitor regularly its citizens and every happening within its soil, which people tolerated because of increased fear. According to Price (2014), this surveillance rose beyond cameras and shifted into text messages, tweets, and data from emails, and cell phone information, which manage to present personal data for monitoring. The essay mainly focuses on the government surveillance conducted in the United States of America.
It is evident that the increased surveillance of the United States citizens started after the terrorist attack they experienced and due to fear, they established the PRISM program overseen by the (NSA) National Security Agency (Strassfeld, 2010). Despite its development, little is known with respect to this program beyond allegations stating it as a system utilize by NSA to retrieve private information. The program allegedly aids the NSA in tapping into the mobile phones of its citizens and monitors any web subscriptions used for communication via an individuals email address (Cole, 2015). The dependable evidence presents that a vast proportion of daily interactions between ordinary Americans is constantly being swept up using government computer systems. They are also run across data-mining or alternative technical processes (Cole, 2015).
The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendment Act established in 2008 and Patriot Act enabled the increment of government contact with realms. The multiple individuals consider as private and usually have a restricted judicial oversight (Robis, 2014). Due to this, it is evident that the surveillance docket is not only practiced by the government solely but also included the employer monitoring of employees in their stations of work that sometimes goes beyond. Furthermore, the United States government increasingly works in collaboration with the private industries as far as collecting its data, and surveillance is concerned. According to Deflem & McDonough (2015), this is evident with the collaboration between NSA and a telecommunications industry. It has enabled the NSA to eavesdrop on the telephone conversations of people external to the structures demonstrated by the FISA 1978 Act (Strassfeld, 2010). Although helpful, this form of program experienced criticisms evident in the Klayman V Obama case decided over by Robert J. Leon, a judge (Robis, 2014). The case mainly questioned if projects such as PRISM fell in line with the American constitution. Besides, institutions such as Institute for Global Security Law and Policy found in the Case Western Reserve University managed to hold a symposium between 22 and 23 October the year 2009. The meeting was to address the issues surveillance is causing in peoples private lives (Price, 2014).
According to Cole (2015), government surveillance can assume a form of power that results to the relative helplessness of the citizens. In surveillance, the government manages to exercise their power regardless of the consent of their citizens. Consequently, this can result in humiliation feelings that come with the realization that the government can monitor every move that the citizen makes, however, private it is. Even so, Price (2014) claims if conducted properly, surveillance can become a useful and necessary part of the work of police and the offering of national defense. Despite this being true, the ever-expanding surveillance states have a consequence for the welfare of the people of the state at the expense of privatization and ensure national security requirements are met. Therefore, the governments know how concerning the whereabouts and needs of its people is essential especially if its social safety nets requires them to work for these particular individuals.
In agreement even with such form of power, the United States government is required to comply with the International Human Rights Law, which advocates for privacy rights (Robis, 2014). Therefore, under this, the public is protected from surveillance, whether electronic, telegraphic, telephonic interceptions, wiretapping, and conversations recordings. Even so, this is only allowed if an appropriately constituted institution authorizes the privacy invasion with respect to an association with a real and realistic investigation. In simpler terms, the activities linked to the gathering of information connected to people by the police are only acceptable if they receive authorization from an appropriate governmental institution because of investigative observations. The move allows some of the citizens to enjoy some form of privacy.
In summary, surveillance by the United States government is quite an essential tool to minimize terrorist threats in the country especially after the September 11 bombings experienced in the country. Due to this, the government has taken upon itself to protect its citizens even if it means invading in some degree of their privacy. The government realizes the importance of surveillance and the ease by which technological advancement has made it in the recent years. Despite this, the government recognizes the need to protect the privacy of their citizens hence strive to protect their rights. Therefore, it is evident that government surveillance involves both negative and positive outcomes for its citizens.
Cole, D. (2015). Privacy 2.0: Surveillance in the Digital State. Nation, 300(14), 218-221.
Deflem, M., & McDonough, S. (2015). The Fear of Counterterrorism: Surveillance and Civil Liberties Since 9/11. Society, 52(1), 70-79.
Price, D. H. (2014). The New Surveillance Normal. Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine, 66(3), 43-53
Robis, L. A. (2014). When Does Public Interest Justify Government Interference and Surveillance?. Asia-Pacific Journal On Human Rights & The Law, 15(1/2), 203-218
Strassfeld, R. N. (2010). Somebody's Watching Me: Surveillance and Privacy in an Age of National Insecurity. Case Western Reserve Journal Of International Law, 42543
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