A book written by George Orwell named 1984 highlights how Big Brother, the government, always keeps an eye on its citizens to maintain power. This highlight suggests that the US government is doing the same. After all, there are many ways for the government to spy on its citizens because of the various technologies, innovations, and services that are being used every day. Sure the government is already given personal information such as income, location of the home, etc. But what are all those public cameras watching? Does the government see who calls, texts, and emails someone else? What about those newsletters, promos, and coupons people sign up for? Can the government check our browser histories? Purchase histories?
Is the government secretly violating constitutional rights? This begs the question: Is Big Brother(the government) watching and should we care? The ever-changing technologies that Big Brother uses to watch are not a threat but more of a security and protection, so there is no need to care.
The reason why the government spies on its citizens are for protection and security.
More specifically, the FBI monitors online activity to ensure there are no online threats. After 9/11, there is no doubt the government deeply reviewed numerous amounts of citizens. Elizabeth Aguirre provides evidence, “Te idea that an FBI analyst can create profiles on civilians based on online behavior isn’t quite scary–if they’re doing so to monitor for security threats”(JetMag). Security threats such as shootings, bombings, kidnappings, and other terrorist acts can sometimes be stopped because the FBI monitors online activity.
The government is one step ahead with the technology it uses to spy for protection. Protection also goes for minor crimes committed such as drug dealing, piracy, data hacking, password trafficking, financial extortion, and many more minor crimes. Many people would pick security over privacy. In the interest of national security, online government surveillance is more of needed protection rather than a threat. Additionally, Big Brother and law enforcement need to have surveillance to help prevent crimes and catch criminals. Those security cameras in and around various restaurants and stores are also technically the government’s too because they can view the footage from those security cameras whenever they would like to. According to Madison Reidy and Susan Edmunds, “Retail consultant Chris Wilkinson of First Retail Group said that people should expect CCTV cameras, particularly in places like banks, supermarkets, and clothing stores, and that the video would probably be shared with other retailers and police”(Stuff). Some crimes are hard to tell if they are happening on a small scale or large scale which surveillance can help the government investigate. Surveillance is essential for law enforcement to catch physical crimes such as shoplifting, robberies, burglaries, shootings, kidnappings, rapes, drug dealing, etc. Surveillance is also important for the government and the community to help improve areas where crime seems to be the highest or most consistent. This could be putting more street lights, posting more signs in that area, or any other solution to prevent crime in that area.
David Ropeik mentions the success of one surveillance system with microphones on them, “Some of them even have speakers so that officials monitoring the cameras can yell “Hey YOU! STOP THAT!” if they see someone fighting, or even littering! (That system was so successful in the first community where it was tried that it was expanded around the country.)” (Big Think). Without government surveillance, a lot of cities would be corrupt and crime-ridden. Many might say that government surveillance is creepy and intimidating. For instance, “But Dalinda Greyling said it was scary. ‘Having them watching your every move and knowing who you are… I don’t necessarily want people to know I’m wherever”(Madison Reidy and Susan Edmunds from Stuff). But the reality is if a person is not doing anything wrong or illegal, he or she does not have to worry about government surveillance. As Elizabeth Aguirre points out herself, “On the other, I know I’m not a threat, so I’m inclined to be mildly apathetic. Small price to pay to keep us safe right?”(JetMag). Government surveillance is necessary for those who have the intention of committing terrorist acts or crimes, and not for the sole purpose of just intimidating and watching its citizens be creepy. But what about online surveillance? Most may say that online surveillance seems to be a little too much surveillance. Liz Wainger especially expresses this concern, “But are we fully conscious of the impact of location devices? Electronics from smartphones to tollgate transponders can pinpoint where we are at all times. Fitness trackers like FitBits measure — and store — our exercise, food intake, heart rate, and calorie expenditures”(Huffington Post). As said before, online surveillance is needed to prevent various and numerous attacks for the people’s safety and protection. There is nothing to worry about unless a person has the intent to do illegal acts. Additionally, online surveillance can be advantageous and benefit people.
Based on the surveillance, the government can provide financial aid/assistance, medical assistance, housing assistance, and many other government-provided benefits to those who are eligible. Most importantly, there is no need to care about Big Brother watching, because it keeps the whole nation safe. Sometimes fellow civilians cannot be depended on for the nation’s protection. David Ropeik highlights an example from the Boston Bombings, “In fact, even when friends of the bombers saw those images it didn’t prompt them to call law enforcement” (Big Think). Some people are not “good samaritans” which is why government surveillance is more of protection rather than a threat. David Ropeik also comments on privacy versus safety, “The omnipresence of such surveillance is accepted by the majority of Britons because the system arose out of the omnipresent threat of terrorist bombings in the 70s and 80s, and fear trumps the desire for privacy” (Big Think). There is no doubt that terrorism spreads fear, but what is, even more, is that government surveillance is a product of terrorism and fear.
This means that government surveillance was not created to just spy on its citizens, but created for the protection and safety of its citizens. People are more than willing to trade their privacy for security especially when terrorism is around. There is no need to worry about Big Brother watching because it keeps us safe and the nation needs it for its protection. The nation is always under constant attack whether it be online, in-person, big scale, small-scale, crime, terrorism, etc. No matter what, there is always going to be some organization or some person plotting something terrible against the nation and its people. As David Ropeik puts it, “It happens often enough to keep people worried, and that’s enough to keep support for surveillance high” (Big Think). Government surveillance keeps society orderly by ensuring justice is served to those who commit crimes and illegal acts both online and physically. Additionally, government surveillance provides protection and security to the nation as a whole from events such as 9/11 and various shootings. No need to care because Big Brother is there.