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Government Surveillance In America Essay

2696 words - 11 pages

As seemingly tangible evidence of a promising and greatly developed future society, technological advancement and innovation is typically celebrated and generously compensated by our contemporaries. In fact, individuals with a remarkable technological genius are deeply respected and almost venerated for their creations. Modern technology is, undeniably, used at the advantage of the American public, as it aids not only in disburdening the general population of the inconvenience of quotidian chores and in facilitating the accessibility of luxurious commodities to the lower classes but it also encourages the progression of the globalization of our society. Naturally, the government has also begun to have ready access to the newest technology and has thus begun to implement it into domestic as well as international policies. However, recent observations by learned scholars have revealed a rather disturbing trend in the usage by government of these devices. They have discovered that instead of protecting and furthering the fundamental ideals of individual rights and limited government that are ingrained in the Constitution, our government has used technology to bypass a myriad of restrictions in surveilling common civilians--all in the name of security and efficiency. This newly-developed form of governance has been termed “The National Surveillance State.” Amongst the citizens of this country, there is a growing concern for the issue of privacy with such a pervasive form of surveillance, as they feel that they are experiencing a severe infringement on rights that they had previously considered impenetrable. In order to address these concerns, Congress must enact legislation that seeks to reconcile the government’s use of technology to our Constitutional values.

In the foundation of the American government, there exists tension between the values of privacy and protection. The conflict arises from one of the ideas that not only was the basis of the Declaration of Independence but also was greatly influential in the drafting of our Constitution: John Locke’s natural rights philosophy. This philosophy states that the primary purpose of government is to protect its people’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property (Leeson 17). Among other reasons, the thirteen colonies fought for independence from Britain because the British monarch did not provide them with the protection of these rights. Therefore, variations of these three natural rights have been acknowledged through enumeration in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and through judicial interpretation by the Supreme Court. Despite its apparent clarity, this fundamental theory has proven to have multiple interpretations, as it has been cited in arguments both in favor and against the ubiquitous surveillance state.

Those that approve of mass surveillance argue in favor of prioritizing safety over individual rights in times of imminent...

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