Surveillance: Society vs. Governments
Many governments intrude into people’s data without their explicit consent, they claim that they do it for a valid purpose: national security. However, we must ask ourselves how far should the government be allowed to go in the name of public safety; we need to have reasonable boundaries and strict control of what they do in matter of surveillance.
A clear example of an uncontrolled mass surveillance system is Russia. President Vladimir Putin has claimed: “You have to get a court permission to stalk someone. We don’t have a massive system for interceptions. It cannot exist.” He supports his view by saying that their special services are strictly controlled by society and by their law. Nonetheless, it has been proven that many times warrants are not required by telecom agencies to intercept people’s communications, strict control is non-existent. In my opinion, secret services must be rigorously supervised by the legislature in order to avoid injustice and guarantee the pursuance of law.
The National Security Agency of the United States (NSA) tracks phone records from citizens. According to them, a warrant is needed and must be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in order to stalk phone calls and relevant data about them. I believe that these organizations are always hiding information from the public eye and it should be mandatory to reveal every aspect of their investigation to people involved in them.
It is worth noting that surveillance has always existed even though there were no technological resources. For example, in Argentina during the last dictatorship, the military managed to invade society’s privacy stating that they were assuring public safety. They collected personal information of certain people such as occupation, political ideology, location, and “suspicious” behaviour. I believe State terrorism is not the appropriate way to protect a nation, since it represents a violation of the civil liberties. Instead, countries should ask for citizens’ opinion to reach an agreement on what degree of surveillance a country must have.
As seen before, governments tend to invade people’s lives with the pretext of preserving National Security. Notwithstading, these interventions should be made only when it is absolutely necessary and with strict control of State organizations. Only by considering the facts mentioned before, we will be able to preserve our intimacy and dignity which are part of our civil rights.