Unintended Consequences Of Government Surveillance

Government Surveillance is the act of monitoring incredulous behaviors and activities for the sole use of influencing, managing, directing, and protecting people. In today’s society, the government claims to use public surveillance as a way of protecting American citizens. They do this by monitoring all phone calls, emails, browsing, and instant messaging. Anything that seems suspicious is reported through the automated Internet Surveillance and then looked at through investigation by the National Security Agency (NSA). The National Security Agency can track any phone when it is connected to a cellular network. The National Security Agency is not the only one spying on United States Citizens it is also social media networks such as Facebook doing so too, for there own personal gain. Today’s government and social media companies have too much surveillance on its citizens and their personal affairs.

One unintended consequence of Government Surveillance is an extreme invasion of privacy. In the book, Why Things Bite Back , Edward Tenner discusses some of the major unintended consequences of technology. Tenner tries to explain how the revenge people do intentionally is not the one that is going to get people in trouble “ it is the tendency of the world around us to get even, to twist our cleverness against us” (Tenner 6). When people’s privacy is constantly being invaded, it opens up more doors for blackmail. By having the government constantly immuring citizen’s information, it will eventually blow out of proportion and peoples personal information will be all over the internet. In the book Frankenstein, Frankenstein finds a small group of people living in a cottage and decides to observe them from afar because he is aware of the fact that humans find him scary. As he watches them, he begins to crave sagacity about how humans communicate and stuff about there personal lives. Just like the government invades its citizen’s privacy by watching them, Frankenstein also does this and he grows fond of them and his ‘thoughts now became more active, and I longed to discover the motives and feelings of these lovely creatures”( Shelly 12). Frankenstein can be compared to the government in the way that he is able to learn from these strangers just by watching them and invading their privacy. In the article, “Pros of Government Surveillance,” the author weighs the pros and cons of government surveillance by discussing the history of the National Security Agency. The author writes, “recent disclosures report that the U.S. government is regularly tracking the calls of hundreds of millions of U.S. civilians” (“Pros” 3). The government can see everything that its citizens do by just tracking.

Government spying is a violation of the people’s fourth amendment right of unreasonable search and seizures. By using this extreme technology, it is suggesting to the citizens that the fourth amendment does not matter and that one of their rights have been taken away.

In the article “Government Surveillance: Cons” author, Carson Morey averreds that the National Security Agency is violating the fourth amendment by being able to search everyone. Morey goes into detail and examines how “this law was created in response to the use of general search warrants by the British” and they were allowed to search law abiding citizens due to this act ( 4). The government soon realized that this was not ok and that it went against everything that the country stood for. The National Security Agency is acting just as the British did when they searched everyone. They are in violation of the American people’s right to privacy and they are using the excuse that it somehow keeps the people safe. In Edward Tenner’s,Why Things Bite Back, he analyzes Rod Sterling’s “A Thing About Machines” and explains how machines have unintended consequences on human’s lives. In the story a man who gets aggravated with his television set and kicks it, has a repairman come over and fix it and after this, all of his technology retaliates against him and ultimately lead to his death. The police end up coming to the man’s house and the appliances drive Finchley away from his house and into a pool and he dies as a result of his technology (Tenner 3). His technology was watching him and learned how to rebel against him. Tenner is explaining how technological advances have extreme downsides and how they will work against people just like they worked against Bart Finchley. In the book Frankenstein, Victor is torn between whether or not he should tell Clerval what is happening with his creation. Victor is aware of the fact that Clerval “ never attempted to draw my secret from me, and although I loved him with a mixture of affection and reverence that knew no bounds” and he could not convince himself to explain his problems to his friend(Shelley Ch. 6). Victor is scared to share his terror’s with Victor because he knows the clerval will think he is crazy. The same concept can be related to everyday life as well. Many people arent very ardent to put their feelings in technology because they know that it might backfire on them and that the government is watching them.

Governmental Surveillance can is shown to limit peoples speech. Now that citizens are aware of the National Security Agency and all that they are able to see, it has really put people into consternation about how they go on about life on their phones, laptops, and etc. The government is able to put mics and cameras into television sets, phones, computers, and other tangible items without people being aware of it. This allows them to monitor certain groups of peoples conversations and potentially use it against them in a court of authority. Ever since Edward Snowden was caught giving away information about the United States to Russia, people are more alert than ever about what is really going on in the National Security Agency (Hasan). Snowden is a perfect example of what happens when the government is able to access everyone’s personal information. Snowden leaked highly classified information to Russia and violated the Espionage Act. If things such as this are able to happen then, the government should not be allowed to have all of this personal information on its citizens. In an interview with Edward Snowden, he discusses how Mark Zuckerberg is violating people’s privacy and freedom of speech through Facebook. Facebook recently had a data breach that “exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users” to receive information about users and maybe even take advantage of them (Issac and Frenkel). He promonotory goes into detail about how “everything that they could get access to on your phone they were stealing…” and not asking for people’s permission (Hasan). Snowden goes on to explain that companies like Facebook are invading people’s privacy in order to gain more money through there users. Government surveillance limits a societies free speech through “ infringes on the very rights of private association upheld by the Supreme Court in 1958” and alters the way people go about there day knowing that the government can track everything that they do (Reitman 9). It makes citizens feel as though they do not really have a voice in society.

Although some may say that people need Government Surveillance in order to keep a country safe, it is proven time and time again that it does not work for its intended uses. Government Surveillance programs were purport to track down terrorists. In the article, “ Arguments for and against Government Surveillance” the author discusses how terrorist groups such as ISIS have found ways around the National Security Agency and have carried out there plans they have used “apps to send encrypted messages to one another, outside of government reach” to communicate ideas and plans that they have (‘Arguments’). Terrorists are very aware of government surveillance agencies such as the National Security Agency and they have prognosticated ways to surpass them and still do what they want. In a sit-down interview with Edward Snowden, reporter Der Spiegel they discuss the ways of the National Security Agency. Spiegel asks the question to Snowden about the main purpose of the National Security Agency to be looking out for Terrorists and Snowden replies with “we don’t have any proof that these mass surveillance programs are stopping terrorist attacks” but we do have proof of them monitoring citizens calls on a daily basis (Knobbe 16). Even though the government is able to collect data on terrorist groups, they still fail to act on it in time which still leads to terrorist attacks. Edward Tenner discussed the same type of problem in “Ever Since Frankenstein” when discusses technology not be used for its intended purposes but instead hurting people such as Bartlett Finchley (Tenner 5).

As stated in the exordium, the government has too much access to citizens personal data. Too much surveillance is shown to put limitations of peoples freedom of speech by enabling mics into laptops, televisions, and etc. Nevertheless, it is also violating the Fourth Amendment right of the Constitution by allowing the National Security Agency to be able to search and seize all of the persons personal data. Governmental Surveillance is not evening doing its best job to keep an eye out for terrorist groups. They are collecting data but still fail to use it and act on it. Government Surveillance is a perfect example of the extreme unintended consequences of modern technology. Just as in “Frankenstein” when Victor creates his monster, he never intended for it to be a creature who was not intended to harm people like Justine,Elizabeth, and his best friend( Shelley). The creature in the book is comparable to government spying and all of its unitnended consequences. Technological advances such as government spying have benefits but ultimately backfires on the rights of the people and there lives with its “unintended consequences of mechanical, chemical, biological and medical ingenuity” (Tenner 6). As Tenner said in his article, technology comes with a lot of unintended consequences that people do not realize till it ends up hurting them.

Works Cited

  • “NSA Surveillance.” Cons of NSA Surveillance, www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~stephaniecampbell01/ProsOfNSASurveillance.html.
  • “Government Surveillance: Cons.” SiOWfa15 Science in Our World Certainty and Controversy, sites.psu.edu/moreyrclblog/2014/03/29/government-surveillance-cons/.
  • Tenner, Edward. Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. New York: Knopf, 1996. Print.
  • Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus : the 1818 Text. Oxford ; New York :Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
  • Theintercept. “Deconstructed Podcast: Edward Snowden on Privacy in the Age of Trump and Facebook.” The Intercept, 25 May 2018, theintercept.com/2018/05/25/deconstructed-the-edward-snowden-interview/.
  • Knobbe, Martin, et al. “Interview with Edward Snowden: ‘There Is Still Hope – Even for Me’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – International.” SPIEGEL ONLINE, SPIEGEL ONLINE, 12 Sept. 2017, www.spiegel.de/international/europe/edward-snowden-interview-there-is-still-hope-a-1166752.html.
  • Isaac, Mike, and Sheera Frenkel. “Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 Sept. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/09/28/technology/facebook-hack-data-breach.html.