Big Brother Is Watching You

If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide, You’ve Got Nothing To Fear

Group 21

The Death of Privacy

Privacy and confidentiality have always been one of the main human rights and aspirations but with the fear of the terrorism and with the digital revolution in 21st century it has become as brittle and vulnerable as we have never experienced before. Technical gadgets have become an integral part of our everyday lives, but this did not come without repercussions on our privacy.

National security agencies and engineering giants are shaking off the responsibility and trying to comfort their users stating that the single goal of the surveillance programs is to ensure protection and Eudaimonia of the citizens, however, should our privacy be sacrificed for the greater good?

Your Safety Is in The Hands of Data

Surveillance programs that monitor telephone calls, emails and social media conversations help to identify terrorists and criminals and prevent possible outbreaks. By analysing activities, “Liked” Facebook pages, browsing history and searches, national security agencies are able to identify suspects and eliminate the risks. In 2017, UK Police made 412 terrorism-related arrests and saved countless number of lives. These programs rely on Consequentialism ethical theory where breach of privacy is justified by reducing the harm caused to society and national security. The life of a person is valued more than a loss of one’s privacy and is therefore considered a legitimate measure that achieves the highest intrinsic value.

Easy to Go with Big Data

Collection of private information by corporations makes our everyday activities easier. I.T. giants gather massive amount of users’ feedback which is used to adjust their product strategy and customer service accordingly. Many of us have been asked to complete a survey or to leave a  review on purchased products. This personal input that is shared publicly helps customers to evaluate and decide on the purchase based on others’ experience. It was reported that 54% of online buyers read reviews before purchasing a product. Using our browsing history Amazon and Google are generating  personal  advertisements which best suit our needs. For companies – it improves marketability of products, for users –  it suggests items that they might be needing. The benefits are maximized for both sides which complies with the Utilitarianism theory.

Additionally, collection of private user data benefits to the development of technology. Personal driving behaviours extracted from car computers assist in design of driverless technology and our recorded voice conversations are used to optimize smart home control systems. Apps like Waze combine recorded GPS data and alert commuters about traffic jams and significantly relieve traffic congestions and improve traffic management on the roads. Lastly, Google feature Popular Times is using your smartphone location and enables to monitor real-time customer flows in shops, gyms and museums. It helps users to decide whether it is a good time to go to certain venues, and for the businesses – how to adjust working hours and improve customers’ satisfaction.Gentlemen Do Not Read Others Mail

Convenience is every citizen’s self-interest, and hence, it follows Ethical Egoism theory which states that actions whose consequences will benefit the doer can be considered ethical in this sense.

Gentlemen DO(NOT) Read Each Other’s Mail

Government snooping is not a 21st century invention as it has been present since the beginning of written history. Julius Caesar possessed a network of spies in order to keep himself aware of possible plots against him. Since 1945, the NSA had been spying on telegrams entering and leaving the U.S., including the correspondence of American citizens. The US intelligence agencies also monitored the communications of civil rights leaders and opponents of various wars, including targets such as Martin Luther King, Mohammed Ali and active U.S. Senators. The Guardian revealed that the U.S. was spying its allies: listening to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s calls, tapping into various EU offices and spying on various Latin American leaders.

Having an informational edge over enemy countries is a necessity in order of maintaining country’s security. However, at a time when international co-operation depends on mutual trust, respect and transparency, such behaviour by allied countries is considered unethical and is deemed to be an egoistic approach.

History also suggests that government surveillance has been used for ages to maintain power and control opposition with a fear of uprising. This approach contradicts the Utilitarianism theory as it brings benefit only to a small number of people and it also restricts freedom of speech and choice of the majority.

Gunpointed. “Trust Us, We Are Not Going to Pull a Trigger”.

The breach of personal privacy can bring significant psychological impact on people and, moreover, a sense of being controlled. Since many of these programs are classified, citizens are not enlightened if their rights are being trampled by their government. It was reported that data intercepted by NSA containing intimate personal media of residents was shared between agents for the sake of enjoyment, disrespecting the privacy of users.  Looking from citizen’s ethical viewpoint, it could be seen as Act Utilitarianism where individual’s rights, feels and laws are forsaken. However, the justification “It is for a greater good” can only hide Egoism of public and private bodies to act in self-interest.

Big Brother is Coming Soon

From 2020 China will introduce a mandatory Social Credit Scheme. The personal behaviour of every single citizen is going to be rated by collecting private data without any consent. Every action you take will be evaluated and rated. Purchases of alcohol, time spent on video games will have negative effect on your score. Also, interpersonal relationships and private communications are going to be evaluated by algorithms to determine if you are a good citizen or not. This sounds familiar to George Orwell’s “1984” novel where citizens are victims of government surveillance.

This violates the ethical principle of Respect for Autonomy which states that people should have control over the decisions that apply to their lives. Ethical theories based on Rights state that the rights are protected at all times. Such Big Data collection violates the rights to privacy that are guaranteed under international human rights law and actions must be taken to control it.

Options for Actions

Utilitarianism theory suggests that people should not get rid of their smart-devices as they have made our lives more convenient and safer. However, engineers have a responsibility of designing technology by taking into account ethical issues of implementing it. On the other hand, Epistemic authority which is unavoidable in corporations suggests, that employees often act based on orders of their superiors not thinking about consequences of their actions.  This indicates that actions have to be implemented by legal authorities by introducing regulations which would control data collection and make companies to be open about what information is being recorded and why.

44 thoughts on “If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide, You’ve Got Nothing To Fear

  1. A great article with some very insightful information.

    Considering the data protection, I believe it’s important to protect the data of users, no matter what. I think ‘Combating Terrorism’ is just an excuse to exploit data and basically contradicts democracy. The Edward Snowden event is the prime example which backs my opinion. Despite advancements in technology, reading about China’s Social Credit Scheme makes me wonder about the future we are headed towards.

    However, appreciating some of the points from the Utilitarianism theory, machine learning technology is very beneficial according to my personal experience and has helped me select the right product at times. Thus, I wouldn’t at the same time, like the idea of isolating myself from the gadgets etc. as it has made my life better and easy.

    Concluding, I think tech giants such as Google, Facebook etc. should be accountable for data protection and this jurisdiction must not involve government at any cost.

  2. Utilization of collected data for the betterment of humanity is an essential factor. This factor should not interfere with the freedom of choice of every individual on planet Earth. The best possible outcome would be to join the best of what both actions can provide. Data collection should be legislated but could not be accessible to the Governmental Establishment. Engineers constructing new technologies should take upon ethics of basic human rights for privacy and be held accountable for misconduct.

  3. An interesting article with a good variety of ethical theories and points discussed.

    I think benefits of collecting data outweigh the possibilities of data misuse as I believe that saving the life of a human and preventing terrorism and aggression is extremely important. At the same time I believe that use of data should be heavily regulated by both internal corporation laws and by governments, which is much harder in case of the latter, as a lot of information might with the “classified” label attached to it.

    On the other hand, Social Credit Scheme seems to be a step a too far as apart from the fact that it violates basic human privacy rights as it was mentioned that data will be collected without consent, it can put additional unnecessary stress on the population on doing only the right things. In theory, this is a good thing, as it should motivate people to do right, but it practise it might result in this stress having a negative impact on the mental health of the people because of being too scared of doing anything wrong. At the same time this idea can have some potential as a tool for improving quality of life. If it allows people to choose whether they want to be analysed and add an option of whether they want to share the data or keep it to themselves, it can help people to monitor there own activity and fight their negative habits being confident that this data is only for the use of only the parties they have decided to share it with and won’t have deteriorative impact on their life.

    Generally I believe that collection and tracking of data has a huge potential for making a positive impact on the life of the society, but more strict legislation and openness of big companies about there data collection schemes is required as shown by the recent example of misuse of Facebook collected data during elections. I think that of the biggest concern is the data collected by governmental programmes and lobbying for more openness about employed schemes (at least general information without disclosing information about what exactly is tracked and how it can be bypassed) might prove beneficial for ensuring that big data industry is moving in the right direction and is for the benefit of the society.

  4. Very insightful article. I think it is worth to sacrifice some of internet privacy for everyone to identify terrorists and criminals and prevent possible outbreaks. Knowing that our private data is being collected, we can share our private information when we meet person eye to eye. I think it is not necessary to share our private information with someone online. In my opinion these surveillance programs could force people to communicate offline and this could be a good thing. I think we should face up that our online personal inormation is vulnerable and we should think twice before doing something online.

  5. Great article. Indeed, we use so many products, and as much as they help us, they also require tons of data to work well. Take facebook, for example: Mark has been apologising for the privacy breaches for 14 years now, however, not much has changed. Many people don’t even realise what sort of ways their personal data could be used for. I reckon that we cannot leave the businesses to decide themselves the boundaries of how the data should be allowed to be used, therefore we will need proper regulation, especially after the recent scandals.

    Though, this will not happen as long as the profits will be incentivised over the social good, which is the case in other areas, say climate change.

  6. Interesting political point is made in a Gunpointed section. It reminds me of Foucault’s critique of the Panopticon society structure – if a small group of powerful people can see what the rest of society is doing without the latter being able to tell when they are being watched, then people certainly adapt their behaviour because they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. In some sense, we no longer behave freely on the internet just because there were too many times (Facebook spying on our messages, NSA leaks, Huawei surveillance etc.) when we found out that we are being spied on. Would be interesting to think about this from a sociological and psychological perspective – how much our behaviour is changed just because we feel being constantly watched.

  7. Some great points made in the article. In today’s world it seems that a lot of applications that we use daily only work well because of the personal data we provide. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing though, as long as some form of “Rule Utilitarianism” is used so that our data is only used to provide us with personalized content or similar activities with good intentions (e.g. identifying illegal activities).

    However it seems like major companies have different interests and such rules are often very loose and are broken to increase profits. The way our personal data is used is also often hidden between the “legal talk” found in most of terms & conditions that can be difficult to understand for an every day user.

    I think if a balance can be found between what type of data is collected and what exactly it is used for, and as long as the user agrees to such data collection, there is great benefit to us as consumers. Although as of right now, it seems that there is no such balance and our personal data can be collected and shared behind our backs (take for example the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica incident).

  8. I think that data collection for the use of personalising advertisements and improving product marketability is extremely useful and is essential for companies to tailor themselves to their target audience. This, combined with terrorism protection and security, generally outweigh the negative aspects relevant to this debate.

    However, I do not agree with the levels of private data collection suggested in the ‘Big Brother is Coming Soon’ section. Actions such as time spent on video games should not determine how much of a ‘good’ citizen an individual is. Ranking based upon such activities is very subjective and creating a unified acceptable list of actions is impossible – it could encourage people to behave differently from their natural personalities just to seem good in the eyes of what society determine as ‘good’.

    On the whole, I think data collection is necessary to encourage development, however corporations need to be open about how they are using the data and stick to their word!

  9. As seen by the current Facebook fiasco, personal data is considered to be really sensitive and controversial topic. Keeping that in mind we still have to discuss it.

    When talking about social media or socially acquirable information, I believe that all this data should be available to everyone provided they have ways collecting it. The uses of said data is and should be legal. If person shares something online it is no longer his personal information – it becomes public.

    On the other hand we have personal data, social security numbers, call registry, bank account balance and transactions, iPhone passwords, private kinky photos. All these types of personal data are stored on a one or another database. It is up to the person and the corresponding companies to keep the database safe from public eyes. When we look at the current situation, these companies are already using our data. Banks – making decisions on their pricing, providing income statements to government for taxation. Mobile phone service providers using persons social security number for various identity confirmations. These are said to make the life easier for everyone, however it hardly is. It actually forces people to become users of services that they wouldn’t use if they had a choice.

    Anyways, the government is making decisions on what is okay and what is wrong. We are just a common folk with our babbling

  10. The Social Credit scheme seems ghastly! I’m quite sure it can be sold as beneficial to society as a while, but the issue becomes who then decides what is beneficial to society.

    Overall, your article is well written and informative.

  11. Personal privacy is related to personal information. This part of information does not need to be known to others. Everyone should be respected and have their own space

  12. Big data should be properly used. Especially the data related to personal privacy information. On the one hand, the collection of information can indeed provide convenience for life, as stated in your article. Moreover, the government’s can use the information properly to know the public opinions, maintain social order, and thus increase people’s satisfaction and introduce accurate policies. However, on the other hand, the excessive collection of personal information, or private information, will affect the lives of citizens. Such as accurate promotion of advertising or phone harassment. Also, some bad guys will have the chance to obtain the information to do something illegal as well.
    So, for the personal information problem, I think we should use the information rating system. For sensitive information, we should inform the user before obtaining and need to be conformed by the user for multiple times. For information with low sensitivity, it can be properly obtained when the user is informed.

  13. The real-name system can effectively reduce the occurrence of illegal events, because if a person knows that what he has done will be recorded, he will control and restrict his behavior. On the other hand, personal information cannot be used by third parties for any commercial purpose, which requires the supervision of relevant laws.

  14. The cases of personal privacy leakage in recent years have had a great impact on people’s lives. People also attach more importance to the protection of personal privacy. Although big data can bring a lot of convenience to people’s lives, the consequences of such information once it is used by criminals are also unthinkable.

  15. Very nice and informative article. I agree that data privacy is a well hidden area and the majority of people are not aware about the terms and conditions when they decide to create an account in social media etc. The article is very comprehensive and quite interesting!

  16. I think this is a very interesting topic to discuss on. in my opinion, the pros outweigh cons. The highlight would be the one related to terrorism. If it gives a good impact on higher number of people, I think it is acceptable. And also for marketing purpose, I agree that it benefits both parties – the companies and users because based on utilitarianism point of view, both cases benefit more people. Having said that, this can be out of hands if it is misused as you mentioned in the article. taking the example of the current issue with Facebook, it is not something new, I mean it has been raised before but people are still not aware of how important privacy is. However, a few regulations should be implemented to stop this. all in all, I think it is acceptable but only to a certain extent.

  17. A very well written and interesting article on issues which, impact not only the current generation but the future generation as well.
    The article covers topics on the benefits of user data acquisition as well as drawbacks. In my opinion, I believe a balance needs to be struck between the gathered data of the user and its purpose. I find the data the Google collects from my devices (which I opt into) provides excellent information which is relevant to me. Traffic updates for frequently travelled routes, popular hours for shops which I go to etc. all help me in my day to day life. However, this can be taken to far and often is. The user should be aware of what data is being collected and when; this will help the user determine if the data is being collected for their benefit. Schemes such as China’s population evaluation is in my opinion taking data collection too far and past this balance. In many ways, this reminds me of the regime in place in the Soviet Union which used informants to gather data on their citizens; Chinas scheme seems to be an update on this. An individual of society should not be judged on the video games they play or their shopping habits; and then subsequently reprimanded for them. I am all for data collection which benefits the user whose data has been collected, but I am against the use of such intricate data collection to classify normal citizens.

  18. I think the surveillance programs are necessary measures against potential crimes, which can protect the greatest number of citizens and conform to utilitarianism. Analysing private data indeed brings convenience to the daily life, such as shopping and travelling. But the companies should not use private data for commerical purposes or their own interests without any permission from their users. Furthermore, they are responsible to ensure the confidentiality of private information and do not disclose to the third party.

  19. Interesting article. So many people invade other people’s privacy through the Internet, which has had a great impact on people’s lives. People also play an important role in the protection of personal privacy, such as self-protection awareness. Although big data can be convenient to people’s lives, the results of this application might be used by criminals are also unthinkable, especially for those lawless people.

  20. The action of collecting data to counteract terrorism and prevent espionage is probably the most important action. By allowing the government to oversee this data outweighs the individual privacy of its citizens. However as seen in the social credits scheme demonstrates this can go too far and is beyond any human rights. While it is a good idea for the greater good it is one that abuses the power and citizens will not be able to interact freely and eventually such policies can be abused by those in power. Not every citizen is a criminal and if a criminal really wanted to commit a secret crime they would eventually find a way to bypass such monitoring anyway so one might consider how effective is monitoring the entire nation. It is said that the UK has the most surveillance cameras in the world for its population or area but it’s criminal prevention statistics are not proportional thus meaning criminals adapt or surveillance workers are simply not as effective. It is unfortunate but a middle ground must be reached because people with data cannot be trusted. Allowing governmental bodies or private companies to simply decide whenever they want to access information must be regulated to prevent such policies. The rules implemented for the allowance of data access must be laid out clearly and it’s methods should be first agreed and supported by the public first.

  21. Good article, some really interesting points and I really like the title.

    I think the utilitarian argument for the use of data should be questioned. I believe the party that benefits the most is the businesses like amazon and google as they are able to look into patterns in behaviour and work out what they can sell and make money off. While individuals, I’d argue, don’t benefit but actually are worse off.

    I feel we are seen not as individuals but as simply consumers to make these businesses money that never find contentment in what we are told we need to buy to be happy. The businesses use this to continually make us buy things and I think this has a negative impact on the emotional well being of individuals and society in general as we are being inundated with messages and adverts (sometimes insidiously) to buy buy buy and it is leading society towards purely material values and the only ones who really benefit are the big companies making all the money

    (see Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at $106bn net worth –

  22. Well written and really interesting article. As the article presented that data collection bring huge positive impacts to the society also to the citizens, make their life much easier and more efficient. However, protecting the privacy of citizens is also extremely important, which means there need a criteria to balance the usage of the collection data and the benefit can be bought to the society and citizens. The regulation needs to be introduced to set the range of data collection, let companies open about the collection scheme and reasons. As some companies are not just not recording data for positive purposes, they must bear legal responsibility.
    So, in my opinion, I will support to collection data but only use for good purpose with legal constraints.

  23. The security of personal information is getting more and more attention, and the recent Facebook incident is the best proof. As the network grows, people’s information becomes more and more accessible. If this information is used effectively, it can greatly facilitate people’s daily life. However, if this information is used incorrectly, it will endanger people’s property and even their lives.

  24. A great piece, summing up both sides to a very relevant and controversial topic.
    The collection of data is essential for the progress of machine learning technology, one of the fast growing technologies with huge potential. However, the type of information being gathered for this has to be regulated, as there is huge opportunity for exploitation of this power.
    The government, the entity we should be able to have the most trust in, has already shown that it will exploit data mishandling such as in the Edward Swowden case. Other recent cases, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, highlight the need for the judicial system to be very strict upon these situations. More importantly, situations like this need to be prevented from happening, as I believe it was become more and more common now.

  25. The issues reflected in this article are worth thinking deeply. On the one hand, the collection of personal information may result in the disclosure of personal privacy, or being used for commercial purposes, ultimately damaging personal interests. However, on the other hand, there are many places in the world where no personal information is left, the cost of crime will be reduced, and in the end it will still damage personal rights. Therefore, it is better to have an authoritative organization such as the government to collect personal information. However, even if the government would collect personal information illegally for some reason, Edward Snowden proved this. Therefore, maintaining the status quo may be a better choice.

  26. Good point, I am deeply touched by this article and can not help but let me think about what the society we are living in will become, and whether the privacy of the citizens can be well protected. In addition, under such circumstances, it is very difficult for people to not have a sense of oppression, when under monitor. This is absolutely not conducive to the healthy growth of the mind.
    I have no doubt that big data can be used and bring benefit to the society, but it should be managed effectively, and the legislation should limit it, otherwise the harm it brings will be more significant than the benefits. The government should better manage the application of this data to protect the privacy of the citizens so as to maximize the interests of the citizens, that is a part of government’s duty. The improvement of the sense of well-being of the citizens will also lead to the promotion of the labor force and promote social development.

  27. Interesting and informative article, there are a few big questions that clearly need asking in the near future. While I do believe many of the uses of big data are excellent and being able to improve people’s lives in such subtle ways is a real benefit. However, as the article discusses in detail, it is perhaps far too easy to make use of these resources in an unethical manner. Arguably, having to rely on whistleblowers to ‘protect’ us from those who wish to use our data for unethical means (i.e. the recent activities of Cambridge analytica in the American election) is insufficient, and governments must step in in these situations.

  28. It’s no doubt that people would benefit from the big data. For this issue, I think more is a matter of choice. That is, people choose to facilitate their own lives or choose to better protect their privacy. I think the core of solving this problem is to find the balance between these two options.

  29. Good article about personal data security. I have nothing against legal data that is gathered about myself usage in commercial or in any other case. If you have something to hide or don’t wanna your data to be gathered or used, be cautious what websites and what data you allow to be accessed. Google and Facebook gathers all sort of data about their users, but you can influence the amount of data gathered about you by using privacy settings.

  30. A well – organized article and you make a great contrast between privacy and safety.
    With the developing of digital revolution, nowadays, people basically cannot escape from the digital products. Personally, it is worth to sacrifice part of privacy to identify the terrorists and protect the public safety as long as the actions and detection is legal.

  31. Thank you for such an interesting article which is strongly related to these days. To be honest, I was shocked when I personally received an email from Gmail with data about all my travels, how many continents and countries I have visited, or even how many miles I traveled abroad. Even though I haven’t shared this type of information, I was tracked regarding my GPS signal. I totally agree with opinion that data collection can be beneficial in order to prevent major illicit activities and save thousands of innocent people from being killed. However, I gravitate towards the view that we have a choice of what kind of information should be shared with our closest friends. Thus, big companies, such as Facebook or Google, have to have regulations and strict law in order to prevent a breach of confidential information. Regarding a story of data leakage to third parties, Facebook now intent to review privacy settings of their customers, which should be done ages ago to avoid mistakes they did. I am really concerned about the future and information which could be used against you later in your life, or even can negatively effect your wellbeing. Even though we share some data publicly we do expect that this information would remain accessible and easily manageable by us. We are responsible for controlling any information we share, so every company which desire to collect data for industry and technology developing purposes have to receive a permission from their customers. Even if we don’t have to hide anything, we still have human rights to our privacy and security which should be respected by others.

  32. I feel its an invasion of privacy that these companies can collect data about individuals without their consent. However, some people don’t mind having their online experiences more personalised and in some sense easier for example, shopping. Companies like facebook make their revenue from ads so why not have ads that are more meaningful to the individual rather than random ads.

    I believe the corporations that have access to users personal data should give users full control over the data that can be collected and how it can be used. They should be transparent with the data and provide all the information on it. This way everyone is happy.

  33. We all getting “raped” and stolen from. Good article. But the truth is that we know what other people let us know or want us to know. Not the real truth. But that is a good thing. If everyone would know all the truth there would be chaos and mass histeria. Spy as much as you want, collect data. Or everyone can claim they dont do that and then let killing happen freely, but we all know (at least most of us) that whoever wants to know – they know. We are just a lab rats in this pile of shit hole we call – planet earth. Sorry, but the only way to stay really safe and happy is to go back 1000 years and live out of your land somewhere in the forest or in the mountains. But we all know thats not gonna happen. P.S. sorry for my grammar.

  34. Article is very relevant to the recent events of Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, which lead to immense of media and government pressure on Zuckerberg and resulted in shutdown of Cambridge Analytica. This example, perfectly shows that how easily it was to obtain personal data of more than 50 million ordinary citizens. What is important, that no one from society even knew that this is happening or felt that their private data is being collected and used at that time. Probably we would never knew this if not for some leaks. We can only try to imagine how much more we don’t know, how many more countless cases there are when our personal data is being used without our knowledge.

    In my opinion, there should be strict laws and authorities that control this data use and we have the right to know each time how our data is used. It is hard to predict how keeping personal data available for companies can backfire us in the future, but it is important to take control of this now.

  35. Great article with some interesting point of view especially these days when it’s very popular topic.

    In my point of view when talking about personal data we should separate few things.
    Firstly, what kind of personal data it is. If it’s ID card, bank account of other very sensitive data, then with no doubt it should be very safe from third parties, but unfortunately it’s not. If personal data is not so sensitive or it’s for example uploaded into Facebook, then it’s no longer personal.

    Second very important thing is purpose of personal data usage. I strongly believe, that when it helps to safe human lifes, there can not be any restriction for special agencies to use it.

    Lastly, I could say that it is our personal choice to use all those gadgets, apps, social media and provide our personal data in order to get some benefits from it or avoid it.

  36. Privacy today faces growing threats from a growing surveillance apparatus that is often justified in the name of national security. Numerous government agencies, and state and local law enforcement agencies—intrude upon the private communications of innocent citizens, amass vast databases of who we call and when, and catalogue “suspicious activities” based on the vaguest standards.

    The government’s collection of this sensitive information is itself an invasion of privacy. But its use of this data is also rife with abuse. Innocuous data is fed into bloated watchlists, with severe consequences—innocent individuals have found themselves unable to board planes, barred from certain types of jobs, shut out of their bank accounts, and repeatedly questioned by authorities. Once information is in the government’s hands, it can be shared widely and retained for years, and the rules about access and use can be changed entirely in secret without the public ever knowing.

    Our Constitution and democratic system demand that the government be transparent and accountable to the people, not the other way around. History has shown that powerful, secret surveillance tools will almost certainly be abused for political ends and turned disproportionately on disfavored minorities.

    Agencies should be created to prevent the entrenchment of a surveillance state by challenging the secrecy of the government’s surveillance and watch listing practices; its violations of our rights to privacy, free speech, due process, and association; and its stigmatisation of minority communities and activists disproportionately targeted by surveillance.

  37. The core argument of this article can be said to be related to everyone at the moment. This reminds us once again of the importance of the privacy issue and deserves great attention.

    It can be seen from the text that the use of big data is an improvement in social security, and it can also improve corporate marketing strategies and help consumers to find products that are more suitable for them, so this approach is of course beneficial to society. However, if you cannot effectively manage the collection, use, and preservation of data, the harm it brings will outweigh the benefits. Nowadays, many companies do not only collect information for the purpose of collecting information, but also for the benefit of others, they will not hesitate to sell other people’s privacy. This is very odious. I think personal privacy is extremely important. Therefore, the government and the company must protect it anyway. The privacy of citizens is their duty and responsibility, otherwise they should be punished accordingly.

    People can learn from past experiences and establish more effective and secure systems to prevent hackers from attacking. Formulate laws and regulations to protect public privacy and restrict companies from misusing personal information in order to maximize the interests of both parties.

  38. Is the governmental surveillance justifiable?

    Well, no. At least in the context of how the question is phrased. Any mass surveillance goes against the “reasonable expectation of privacy” that every individual has the right to enjoy. The difference is what is the scope of a certain investigation. In digital crime investigations the procedure for collecting evidence from surveillance etc typically involves some sort of cyber search warrant that is issued by a court. In the case of counter-terrorism operations, the line is so blurry that it is virtually non-existent. There have been repeated calls for transparency on how intelligence agencies collect and use the data and communications of citizens, however the national security argument almost always prevails. The Snowden revelations simply confirmed what everyone knew in the security field and a large part of conspiracy theories. If someone wants to get your data so badly, rest assured that they will.

    From an ethical perspective, is this violation of privacy desirable? Certainly not – and the counter-argument that, if one is innocent, they have nothing to be afraid of, only opens Pandora’s box for public and private organizations to collect any personal data that can get their hands on. Is this violation of privacy necessary? On occasion, it is. But then the question is who will decide this and on what criteria. For many people, events such as the London riots in 2011, where BB Messenger was used to coordinate the crowds, serve as a constant reminder of the potentially harmful use of technology. Other argue that a ban on Whatsapp and similar encrypted services is a clear violation of privacy, and a step that does not necessarily help the fight against terrorism or the protection of the homeland. Indeed, both sides have plenty of cases to support their argument.

    Interestingly, the ultimate philosophical question in (cyber)security is: “who guards the guardians?” Democracies (should) have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that individual privacy is not violated, whilst supporting the operational capability of law enforcement and counter-terrorist agencies. And mechanisms to evaluate and monitor these safeguards regularly. Yet, this can only happen in a perfect world, and we are “human, all too human”. The only thing that we can be certain of, is that this debate will continue over the next decades, especially now that encrypted phones and communication apps become the norm. (Sorry for the long answer!)

  39. The “surveillance society” is a euphemism for totalitarian state. The thing we learned over the past generation is that a society absent its legal protections against concentration of power and wealth eventually leads to the concentration of power and wealth and the ill effects on society it creates.

    We have learned in real time that the thirst for power and greed for wealth knows no boundaries in SOME people. The existence of such tools and their legalization of their use is both an effect of this generational social and economic trend as well as something that has fed back into the downward spiral.

    If this cycle does not change, you may not like what the results are in ANOTHER generation. History has shown that totalitarian societies decay from within. As trust erodes, the economy and gov’t stops functioning as a lubricant of improvement and acts more as a dead weight on society.

    I’ve heard Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, describe the benefits of devices like Google Glass – that they would enable wearers to re-live their own history with enhanced fidelity, as well as being a source of information in the present tense.

    I think this is absurdly naive. There is no business model that would support this kind of storage without grave consequence to privacy in the corporate and governmental spaces. Recent news has caused me to change my behavior: I now avoid using Google as a search engine. I pretty much never have used their other document and email services due to their Terms of Service.

    We’ve done a bad job of countering specious, self-serving media messages to ourselves, that privacy is “no big deal.”

  40. A well-organized article uses different moral and ethical principles for analysis on both positive and negative sides.

    Then the question arises. First, whether or not the government is now talking about is just to deceive the public, and everything is just a blind eye. Now, let’s suppose that the purpose of the government’s collection of information is only to counter terrorism and prevent terrorist attacks. Does this really make sense? Does it really achieve the desired effect? I think the answer is uncertain. Although big data does help, criminals are getting more and more embarrassed. It’s becoming more and more difficult for public privacy to obtain valuable information from it. On the contrary, in order to increase the intensity of counter-terrorism, the corresponding government is to increase the scope of information collection, which means that more public privacy should be stolen. In fact, a lot of evidence in the text also confirms my point of view. For example, Snowden’s case strongly proves most of the conspiracy theories people know about in the security field. It is only that the national government has been concealing it and is constantly inculcating. National security theory makes it impossible for some people to see the true colors.

    On the contrary, I think surveillance programs have also given some criminals a chance. In recent years, hacking has always been a big problem. Apart from being personal, it is also directed against companies and some national institutions, and those collected information is often theirs. Attack the object. However, these hacking attacks are now difficult to effectively prevent and control. Once this information flows into the hands of hackers and is resold to lawless elements, many potential dangers will erupt. This poses a threat to public security. Whether it is the leakage of personal privacy or more security problems, the final victims are the people. Therefore, if you want to solve this problem fundamentally, you must eradicate the scourge from the source, that is, stop collecting information. This will reduce criminal discipline.

    Surveillance programs should really be considered carefully. Even if they are to be used, they should be openly made known to the public and made available for them to decide whether to provide them. The people have the right to choose to protect their personal privacy, and personal privacy is sacred and inviolable!

  41. Data privacy, data security, and data ethics have always been the hot topics discussed by the business community and academia. Data analysis technology itself is not good or bad, people use data analysis technology just to make the product sales better. Many companies analyze data in one way or another. These data analysis technologies have brought great benefits to companies and consumers. Although the extensive use of data analysis technology has brought many benefits, it has also caused some problems. The most important issue is data ethics.

    Internet services are very important for the protection of user privacy. In general, it is necessary to provide users with permission for data collection before users can collect and process data after confirmation. Second, is there any guarantee of data security in the company’s internal data processing? There are some techniques for desensitizing topics. Companies should have rules and regulations that address data processing and access restrictions. Third, data must have corresponding protection measures on the storage. If user data needs to be processed by third-party data, it needs to follow the country’s regulations. Fourth, users have absolute rights to their own data, such as the right to forget, right to correct, companies need to provide support. Fifth, determine the responsibility, data leakage, how to deal with, data processing and data controllers should clarify the responsibility in advance.

  42. When watching the news that “our personal information has been sold for very meagre profits”, I just felt that it is becoming so normal for each person in this society and we even do not care too much about this. Is it an unethical or immoral action? No one can really justify.
    Information security has been an important issue but serious problems and privacy crises still remain to be solved.

  43. I really enjoyed reading this article, hearing about the government’s plights to keep tabs on its own allies for the sake of “security” is very interesting as it shows the lack of trust on a much grander scale. It also makes it apparent that this is not something new, but in fact could show an insecurity that all humans experience.

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