Public Security vs. Individual Privacy
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September 11th was definitely one of the grimmest times in America’s recent history. There was security breach at the airports and American planes were hijacked and crashed into the world trade centre. The terrorists were suspected to be al-Qaida and approximately 3000 lives were lost on one day. For the attacks to be staged successful the terrorists had to by-pass the security systems and they succeeded. It is the duty of the government to put in place methods to prevent a recurrence of the event and protect its citizens. Safety of the citizens is far important than individual privacy. Although each individual is entitled right of liberty and privacy, the government may interfere with the privacy of individual for security reasons.
People need to feel and be safe in their homes. Surveillance by use of street cameras, phone tapping, email screening, metal detector screening and other measures have been put in place to help identify and track suspicious people that may be terrorists. However, every good thing has its down side. The technologies applied are not restrictive to terrorists only but to the whole American population. The privacy advocates claim that the citizens’ right to liberty and privacy is infringed, one cannot move about freely without being watched (Kaminer, 436).
While it is a good act to install mechanisms against terrorism the measures should be effective and achieve the intended goal. If the American citizen is to give up the right to liberty it should be for a worthy cause. The current measures have led to a safer community. People may have differing opinions on this but it is better safe than sorry. The mechanisms may not fully address the issues of concern but every attempt is a step closer to a perfectly safe society and for that we should be ready to make sacrifices.
The security mechanism by government that has raised a lot of controversy is use of screening. Closed-circuit cameras surveillance system has been introduced in many parts of the country. The system is used to survey the streets, the transport system, public schools, and federal facilities. The system is capable of reading license plates, zoom in on individuals and even track them and also read print from miles away. Electronic surveillance has also been introduced and the authorities can screen phone calls, emails and internet usage, and other means of communication. Physical screening using metal detectors has also been introduced in transport terminals, building entrances and other public places.
There is no fault in public places being watched this closely. Actually this vital information has in some instances helped to stop crime. Two boys in London took hostage and slew a toddler and the incident was caught on surveillance camera thus helping identify crime perpetrators. In the instance that a suspicious person is spotted on the live stream, immediate action is taken to confirm or drop the allegation. If a house is robbed or a car chase ensues it would be of help to know the location and licence plate of the car increasing safety.
Parenti however argues that surveillance can be used a tool to discriminate against a group (Parenti 432). The detectors take photos that show objects attached to the body such as colostomy bags and adult diapers. People who use these may feel embarrassed. In 1999 and 2000 the system was used to psych out and identify a group of peaceful demonstrators. While one has a right to anonymity we cannot deny the fact that large groups of people are very attractive to people with malicious intentions because they can easily hide and the crowd is a good target (Kaminer, 436). The cameras have been able to identify homeless people and idle youths. This has led to them being driven away from public places. This helps to...
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