It is true that as more security precautions are taken to improve public safety, there are also increasing concerns for public’s privacy. With cameras installed in every corner and every street, with security authorities allegedly gathering users’ data from social media platforms; the people are becoming more concerned about privacy. Surveillance raises ethical and legal concerns which need to be discussed.
In China, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithm is used by security agencies to predict whether a person may be prone to committing a crime before he/she has done the actual act. This level of surveillance undermines an individual’s rights to freedom of speech. It might be unfair to say the least. How can anyone be absolutely certain that a person is guilty of a crime that he has not yet committed? What happened to “innocent before proven guilty”? These are questions that should be asked.
Looking from the point of view of security authorities, surveillance is a necessary action required to prevent threats that might lead to any sort of potential attacks. Surveillance can lead to improved security and safety of the citizens, but there also needs to be a proper legislation regarding this.
According to a report in Harvard Magazine, unnecessary surveillance might be affecting our behavior. “The fact that you won’t do things, that you will self-censor, are the worst effects of pervasive surveillance”, the report says. People change their behavior when they know that the government might be watching them in their daily life. This can lead to a curtailing of an individual’s right to exercise freedom of expression.
If you have read the novel, 1984, by George Orwell, you would be aware of how people can gain power by monitoring peoples’ actions. And if this power of being able to monitor people goes unchecked, it can have negative consequences. Private information in the wrong hands can lead to black mailing and threats and power of one group over the other.
But what can we do to find a balance between these two?
There needs to be a dialogue between national security authority agencies and legislation authority. It is essential that they find a middle ground where surveillance does not directly threaten privacy of the public. Because surveillance has in the past resulted in avoiding potential attacks, we need it in our current world setting. This is the reality of our world today something which some people fail to realize. With technological advances, there is also ingenuity that can be found in the sort of attacks and crimes people commit. Therefore you cannot completely give up hands on surveillance.
Having said this, we need to avoid “unnecessary” surveillance which includes snooping on people without informing them, having information on every move that an individual makes. This should not be allowed because it goes against the doctrine of liberty and freedom.