Opinion: Limiting surveillance is best move for society

Posted on Sep 29 2017 - 8:00am by Woody Dobson

Government surveillance is a topic of major debate in the present technological era, and dealing with privacy issues that surround government surveillance is a growing matter to people all around the globe.

Smartphones, computers, cameras, bank ATMs and traffic lights are just the tip of this wide surveillance iceberg. In the past, the use of surveillance, or “spying,” arose during the late 1800s as a byproduct of the American Industrial Revolution to aid the military.

Presently, combining this inherently secretive nature with the integration of new surveillance into mainstream society challenges our former societal ideas about privacy.

In the half-century or so before 2007, gathering information was limited to users of normal desktop computers and laptops. However, Steve Jobs’ induction of the iPhone brought informal data gathering into the mobile, internet-fueled era.

At this time, privacy rights and civil liberty violations were beginning to surface. Additionally, what was originally displayed as a carefree and easy way to acquire information now presents obstacles to users’ personal privacy.

While surveillance and information are useful when wielded in lawful hands, some view this technological prowess in a different light.

Sub-governmental agencies in the United States significantly oppose the gathering of illicit and unlawful information and have therefore imposed careful restrictions on carefree information-gathering without the user’s consent within internet-surveillance provisions.

Edward Snowden revealed this architecture while working for the National Security Agency and learned the U.S. was gathering unlawful data on its citizens, without permission under the “PRISM” layout, which consisted of the NSA collecting data from nine major internet companies.

Snowden’s response has led other whistleblowers to reveal unlawful government spying and restrictive privacy breaches used to obtain information. While privacy is a personal right in the United States, this new form of protection within surveillance may be going too far.

While surveillance slowly adapts to the new era of technology, it brings many questionable opportunities to gather information quickly and efficiently. The swiftness of being able to instantly check a camera located at your home from your smartphone many miles away is just one example of how ease of access is becoming the new societal trend.

Even considering the different stances, suppressing governmental surveillance is the best option.

Would you rather be spied on without your lawful knowledge? Or would you rather not be watched at all?

Not being watched sounds pretty great and non-invasive of personal privacy.

An understanding of surveillance and its implications must be carefully presented to society. While many barriers to ethics must be overcome, personal privacy should not be invaded by the technological prowess that’s moving the globe forward.

Woody Dobson is a senior political science major from Tupelo.