Advantages and Disadvantages of Mass Surveillance

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Question :

Topic - Essay

Word Count: 1,800 words


Does mass surveillance actually save us from crime/ terrorism?

Your task is to provide a reflective journalists article on the Debate topic given above.


  • Introduction and detailed summary of the main issue that you are reporting on from the debate.
  • The next section should include the key issues of the introduction.
  • Conclusion should include outcome of the debate and brief summary.
  • Provide academic references. Also provide link and references to the UK Data Protection Act of the new EU GDPR.

You are required to cover three main elements for your work:

1) Argument and analysis

2) Knowledge and research and

 3) Writing and Presentation.

Answer :

TOPIC : Does mass surveillance really protect us from crime / terrorism?

As a part of reflective essay, I have tried to reflect upon the major discussion in the debate which focused upon the effectiveness of mass surveillance in contemporary environment. sMass surveillance involves the practices of CCTV monitoring, computer hacking, wire tapping and more, for protect people from crime. It is considered as the fundamental threat to rights of human that violates the privacy (Maras and Wandt, 2019). Concerning on this topic, provide a meaningful analysis for government to manage national security issues like terrorism, network attack on infrastructure, weapons proliferation and more. In the prevention and investigation of terrorism acts as well as potential terrorists conspiracies, public authorities have shown greater interests to ensure that entire information related to prosecution of serious crime must be timely provided (Miller, 2019) . In this reflective article I have tried to note down the major discussions during the debate primarily focusing on mass surveillance violating human rights. I have presented necessary arguments that will be helpful in determining the effectiveness to evaluate if this surveillance really protect human from criminal activities like terrorism.

Through numerous public incidents, I have been able to identify that mass surveillance is carried out not only by government but also done by agencies on the behalf of public authorities. The debates have been helpful in identifying that spying activities are carried out on a particular group or entire population. Therefore, mostly people do not participate in such activities (Matos, 2019). Privacy in my aspect is one of the crucial thing which a person deserves. It is mainly considered when any practice related to metadeta, where collected data provides less protection to human, according to right to privacy. Therefore, metadeta includes a unique challenge for public authorities that mainly work for protecting national security against terrorism and other criminal activities, which harm both people and government infrastructure. Other than this, mostly people belong to civil society advocates metadeta refers to the protection of the right to privacy, as per basis of 'mosaic theory'. This theory defines as a method of collecting data, which provides little piece of information but can be used to conduct in-depth analysis about personal activities of an individual by combining multiple information which is contained in metadata (Thorsen, 2019). Considering the example, to determine the ethnicity as well as relationship status, computer scientists can spy information from location of that mobile telephone of that person. Along with this, social media activities of a person on Facebook and other platform, also reveal interests and society circle. It is argued here on this practice, that revealing from social media about misused the human rights.

The argument presented in the debate focused upon importance of Mass surveillance in fighting terrorism, social unrest and prevent crime, protect national security as well as control the population (Franko, 2019). I believe that it is one of the crucial approach which is further helps in monitoring of behaviour, activities and information for the motive of influencing, managing as well as directing. This can consist observation from a spacing by means of electronic tool, such as CCTV, Internet traffic and so on. These are main techniques which helps an individual by analysing its each activities or action within a same place and time (Vogiatzoglou, 2019). It can also consists simple technical methods which are postal interception and human intelligence gathering. One of the major issues which was raised during the debate focused upon the Violation of the Human rights due to mass surveillance. In order to reduce this issue Metadata is consider best and effective technique which helps in reducing crime. Surveillance which is applied by governments for intelligence collecting, prevention of crime, protection of a person, group, process or object as well as investigation of crime (What Is Mass Surveillance And What Does It Have To Do With Human Rights?. 2019). Along with this, it is also followed by criminal organizations in order to plan and commit crimes/terrorism, and by organisations to collect intelligence on their suppliers, customers and competitors. I support the statement presented that mass surveillance really protects an individual from crime or terrorism. In public places, surveillance cameras always installed because they ensure public safety. Via surveillance cameras, the police force can both keep crimes from occurring and can speedily solve criminal cases or issues with material evidence.

In my experience, I can say that CCTV cameras have been more effective and useful in reducing crime/ terrorism for some, though not all, areas. Considering the scenario of Baltimore, officials 500 cameras are installed mostly in a 50-block down town location which is monitored by retired police force in a control room as well as saw crime rates drop steadily (Kirisci, 2018). Thus, Mass surveillance camera systems can be an effective and cost-effective way to document and cut down crime. Mass surveillance is best technique as it helps in protection of individual and reduction of crime. There are different advantages mass surveillance technique such as improve public safety, reduce rate of crime, help catch criminals, give evidence and collect clues, and bring convenience for every day life. Video surveillance statistics display that camera surveillance does cut down crime - after safety cameras were put in in the public eye or in place. If a person cognize that there are live mass surveillance cameras in a few location, they may be little glad to commit a crime/ terrorism near the area for the fear of being caught. Therefore, mass surveillance is necessary in public place for reducing crime and protecting an individual to feel secure and safe (Perko, 2012).

Also Read:- Advantages of Information and Communication Technology

The discussion later manifested some issues relates to mass surveillance as it interferes human personal or privacy with permission. I think privacy is one of the crucial aspect which mainly relies upon the situation of at which a person will free from any unwanted attention or disturbance into their life. This aspect is considered as most essential for personal identity, freedom and dignity. The later section in the debate focused upon the types of privacy can be broadly classified into three main aspects - accessibility, decisional and informational privacy. Here, accessibility privacy taken as 'right to be let alone', that gives right to people to live freely without interference or involvement in someone's personal choice and decisions. While informational privacy considers as a non-implementable concept that makes no practical sense. Here, volume and complexity is mostly immense via big data, predictive analytics, hidden institutional sources and more (Franko, 2019). Such data can be gathered through individual resources like computing and technical resources, legal resources and more. These concepts of informational privacy concerned with control over personal flow of information, with self-determination and more. Other than this, decisional privacy refers to freedom from interference in personal choice and decisions of a person, where notion of privacy is taken as legal arguments (Vogiatzoglou, 2019). Mass surveillance will intrudes on personal lives of an individual at which government bodies can monitor the most intimate parts of person's life without any restriction or limitations that mainly weakens sense of an individual freedom (Latimer, 2011). Along with this, at the extreme condition, mass surveillance can be used or abused by nation or state or international government in order to clamp down on a political practices as well as trade unions.

Post description of the various types of privacy, there was a discussion on the opinions and views of people relating to mass surveillance which identified that around 3 millions people who are using internet around the world because it make their life easier as well as it also help in conducting effective communication (Surveillance and interception of communications, 2018). But due to mass surveillance their all private violated as well as personal information are at the great risk as well as there are also several limitation of mall surveillance which hamper normal life a person. Such as sometime mass surveillance miss lead the evidence which are collected by government due which they investigate with number of peoples which checking their personal data which affect freedom of all (Matos, 2019). During this circumstances life of innocent peoples also get hampered without any reason as well as sometime it will also lead to situation in which innocent person get the punishment due to some misunderstanding. In addition to this sometime government also used data and informations collected through mall surveillance for their personal benefits which impact or abuse the private or personal life of an individual (Thorsen, 2019).

Therefore, in order to protect the human rights and manage the process of mass surveillance, public authorities are now concerned on adopting new technologies (Custers, van der Hof and Schermer, 2014). I believe that it is one of the contemporary approach which will be helpful in dealing with uncertain future. This approach includes computer ethics and privacy, which can be defined as a process of analysis of nature, regarding with social impact of computer technology as well as corresponding formulation, with justification of policies to usage of ethical in a technology (Maras and Wandt, 2019). Through this process, by integrating the computing technology within mass surveillance process including human values in such a manner, that technology advances will protect the fundamental rights of human instead damaging them. The potential of ICT can be measured in terms of reinforcement and strengthening the human rights; increase participation of public for mass surveillance in order to reduce the threat of terrorism and other criminal activities; enhancement of privacy and anonymity. Ethical practices within mass surveillance also considered a number of aspects which includes culture, religion and society; impartiality, freedom and human rights etc. Along with this, a key element behind development of ethical technology includes responsible research and innovation (Miller, 2019). It can be taken as an approach to anticipate and access the potential implications, as well as societal expectations, with purpose to foster inclusive design for innovation.

I can conclude from the discussion that mass surveillance have been helpful in countering terrorism but violates the privacy of target audience as well. But it fails to fulfil its work when over-collection of personal data for prevention of criminal activities has led to thwarting the investigators. In this regard, intelligent system which is overextended also considered as dangerous and ineffective, where monitoring the communication of every people rather than suspects miss lead the procedures of anti-terrorism. Therefore, if government gives assurance that any kind of terror attacks like 9/11 (a terrorist attack in USA) will not happened in future, then public in large group of population will participate in the process of mass surveillance. Regardless of any legality of social implications or mass surveillance, success is truly matters for all. The major findings from the debate mostly relies upon the failure of mass surveillance system continuous terrorist attacks, cyber crime and other enlarging criminal activities. However, mass surveillance technology like computer ethics can be taken as useful, but only in limited or restructured role.

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