Surveillance State: Empowering Big Brother


Governments always want to be in control. They want to keep their citizens in check, monitor anomalies, and safe guard their borders. How they go about in doing the aforementioned is what concerns citizens.

Surveillance is one of the biggest issues that concerns most citizens and privacy groups. Ever since the relevation by Edward Snowden that the US government is actively monitoring its citizens at home and even monitoring heads of state abroad, there has been a serious debate about overreach and how much information governments should be allowed to have on its citizens.

In the UK, the Home Secretary Theresa May, recently unveiled some surveillance measures that have raised some eyebrows in the public sphere. These measures include requiring internet and phone companies to keep “internet connection records” – tracking every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months. A concern about this is that it does not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data.

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In the wake of the Paris attacks, the issue of mass surveillance is going to be a topic that is going to be debated fiercely between privacy groups and supporters of mass surveillance.

Even France has a controversial surveillance bill in place. The law allows the government to monitor phone calls and emails of people suspected of connections to terrorism without the authorization of a judge. It requires Internet service providers to install “black boxes” that are designed to vacuum up and analyze metadata on the Web-browsing and general Internet use habits of millions of people using the Web and to make that data available to intelligence agencies.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the French government will be emboldened to take steps to enforce this law and even increase its scope. The thing is, can you blame them?

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Some would argue that surveillance laws like this are necessary to stop threats and attacks like the recent Paris attacks. The US government has argued that mass surveillance has even stopped terrorists from carrying out attacks on US soil.

I am a bit conflicted. I think intelligence agencies need as much information as they can so they can track suspects who want to commit atrocities on innocent civilians.

On the other hand, I’m concerned that governments might have TOO much power. If an advocacy group is dissenting against government, what is stopping the government of the day from using acquired information from their surveillance programs to shut that group down?

The debate will continue to go on.

As long as terrorist groups like ISIS exist, Big Brother will be empowered continue watching.