American citizens and immigrants as well as other residents expect that the government will protect them from attack by enemies and also safeguard their privacy and civil liberties. The intention of using improving technology by the government to protect civilians is to ensure that there is maximum security and the people should also enjoy an acceptable level of privacy. This means that the new technology is setting a new level of privacy along with security concerns.
The battle again crime especially the security threat of terrorism is a major national concern. Being able to “connect the dots” is currently the goal of security enforcers for using information technologies and other intelligence to protect the people from attacks. It’s the advance and emerging technologies that provide the main approach to fighting crime especially secretive criminals and networked gangs.
However, in a free and open America, the use of these new technologies should be responsible, and that civil liberties and privacy should be protected. Simply put Americans want protection from crime and terrorism yet fear privacy implications when advanced technologies are used. Is it an ethical concern?
Advantages of Using Advanced Technology for Security
With the advent of the new technology and the dramatic advances that have been made in the 21st century, information technology has grown to become a very important tool for fighting terrorism (Ariana 2). The use of this technology helps to connect information clues and then draw sense out of them from a massive amount of information transacted worldwide (Gill 193). The US has a very good resource in its intelligence for fighting terror.
Several information technology applications can help intelligence officers to collect and analyze information and be able to comprehend terrorist clues like the plotting of attacks and the next possible move. Security agent can use the process of data mining to get a pool of information they analyze it by speech to text transcription or pattern analyses (Garfinkel 145; Cook & Cook 72). These help determine terrorist pattern activities and behavior.
Fight terror-related and other crimes
To be able to fight terror-related and other crimes, the security agents are sometimes required to investigate the private information of certain people. However, considering that Americans have a great understanding of their rights like the right to freedom and expression among others (Garfinkel 145), they cannot sit back and watch their privacy being invaded. Besides, the offers have sworn to protect the entire constitution including these rights (Gill 193).
It’s with such in mind that they seek to preserve privacy by using biometrics. This is the use of fingerprints, retina detection, face recognition, and voice identification among other biological related technologies to track people (Adomatis 56). This method is very important and mostly used in the military and helps to identify people, track their whereabouts of people, what they do among other things (Ariana 2). This means that whenever a person does something illegal, these tools can be used for recognition of the identity of the person and tracks him/her.
Offer Protection and Other Public Services to Civilians
The government often insists that there is a need to have people’s private information to offer better public services (Christopher 3), combat crime, offer protection to the public, and to deal with social isolation as well as the decreased burden of business and the citizens (Adomatis 56). In the modern world, the collection of personal information is at a higher level than ever because of extensive surveillance (Cook & Cook 72). There are several CCTV’s installed in the important building and public facilities like public offices, hospitals, schools, lifts, lobbies, etc. these surveillances have been very effective in detecting crime to some extent (Gill 193). CCTVs are very vital for crime investigation today.
Personal information from DNA that is habitually collected from criminals or at the scene of crimes by the investigating police form a good basis for further inquiries and evidence against criminals (Gill 196). Since when the National DNA database was established, the number of DNA profiling being done has increased tremendously and this has greatly helped in finding evidence and connecting it to crime (Garfinkel 148).
The Disadvantage of Using Technology for Protection
The use of technology to access personal information and investigate crime has been found to have some damaging implications on privacy (Christopher 3). As much as the officer in charge must do whatever they need to do to combat crime and protect the public, they should only do this with the permitted limits of information search so as not to exploit their privacy (Gill 197). The Americans have legitimate concerns about privacy protection and the possible negative consequences of the government accessing private information. The public does not completely understand how the government would use the information and who else will have access to that information (Cook & Cook 72).
Undermining Human Rights and Freedom of Expression
Increased surveillance can pose a considerable threat to personal privacy and freedoms of each individual as liberty argues, mass surveillance has a negative implication on the public as personal autonomy is now vulnerable (Devries 283). Good ethics demand that privacy should be upheld and remain a significant part of the conversation among Americans. However, with the thought of surveillance, autonomy, and the ability to control information is affected (Devries 283). The value of privacy is undermined and this is clear injustice because privacy has to be recognized and acknowledged in the manner people develop social relationships.
Following the famous September 11 incidence, the government has increased the way it uses technology for security reasons. It employs the high-risk technology and cutting edge approaches and more surveillance and intrusion of privacy (Jürgensen 56). From the democratic point of view and social human rights, it is unethical to exploit people’s privacy and keep them under surveillance (Gill 199). Security reasons sometimes require screening of potential saboteurs in the workforce is important, such surveillance has become a limit to the public’s freedom of association and expression, which are two important human rights in an open democracy (Cook & Cook 72).
Threat to Privacy
The state defends its measures by stating that privacy has increased scope when the security of the nation is involved. Consequently, they give the argument that personal privacy is only violated if there was a tangible loss like being detained for no solid reason or unwarranted arrest (Cook & Cook 72). It’s hence vital to be able to understand the balance between the two important goals of the government.
Privacy is described as the claim of a person to be left alone and not to be kept under surveillance or interference by other parties, organizations, and even the state (Ariana 2). Information technology has made the invasion of privacy very easy and this threatens claims of intrusion of privacy as the invasion is cheap and effective (Devries 283). This means that individual privacy security of individual information and the ability to trust the state is even under more threat (Ariana 2).
Lack of Trust in State
Increased surveillance causes individuals to lose trust in the state. The main question is that what is the meaning of privacy when there are massive surveillance and even intrusion into private life (Cook & Cook 72). Whatever the state will do with the information remains uncertain to individuals and at times this leads to an unwillingness to corporate even if the government is investigating a major case.
With the government insisting on centralized storage of information on databases has to lead to undermining the presumption that an individual is innocent (Garfinkel 147). Consequently, a person refusing to give requested information becomes the target of the investigation. The insistence that individuals would be responsible for updating their data causes onerous responsibility on the citizens (Devries 284). Besides those activities promotes unethical belief all people are untrustworthy because the technology implies that anybody can do something wrong or is going to do something wrong.
The information that the government collects concerning through its surveillance and other methods of data collection are often used for profiling individuals and generalization of facts (Sherman 24). For instance, studies are seeking to identify children who may grow up to be criminals at a rate of 80%. Linking risk factors like parenting, place of birth, race, where the person grew up and the education level, and so forth can cause stigmatization because of suspicion that certain individuals are likely to commit crimes.
The amount of personal information that the government has over an individual is so great and because of increased cybercrime, this information can be stolen and misused. The claims of such crimes have been on the increase as non-data storage is 100% secure even in the FBI. If such a thing happens, then it could be very difficult to set the records straight.
Because of time and space, other improper use of technologies will just be mentioned. They include the use of GPS on cell phones to track people as Adomatis cited. Airport screening has intensified to a point of using X-rays and other means to identify what people are carrying. Besides, there is a restriction of certain material that should not be carried to the plane. Since most terrorist are linked to the Islamic faith, Muslims are often handled with discrimination as being a potential threat, and lastly, the USA patriot act allows law enforcers to sneak into the residential house without a search warrant, intrude on emails, and snoop on telephone conversations among other personal information at any time under any condition.
The government uses the improving technology to provide security and protection from terrorists and other crimes. However, as much as civilians require this protection or maximum security, it has to also respect the people’s rights embedded in the constitution. People should be able to enjoy an acceptable level of privacy. As much s the state has the responsibility of protecting the people, preservation of their rights and freedom is equally important as their inalienable human rights form the bedrock of the USA’s constitution. Security officers who seek to protect citizens from terrorism and other crimes should not themselves commit crimes of infringing individual privacy.
Adomatis, Doug. Using the GPS for People Tracking, Travel by GPS.com, 2008. Web.
Until recently, the use of Global Positioning Systems – GPS was not used to detect people’s location as it required expensive hardware and software. In modern world, total solutions have been developed through cellular service providers. After September 11, 2001 incident, the demand for GPS increased to track cellphones and by the end of 2005 all cell phone were required to be traceable when phone calls are made.
Ariana, Eunjung. “To Protect and Intrude,” The Washington Post, 2005.
Just like the mythical gods who see everything happening to everyone, many private companies have now developed technologies that can trace people movement from space. The security-conscious American government hailed the technology as great but Ariana notes that it did not consider issues of privacy. This is problematic considering the legal precedence is not clear on when and how such technology as GPS should be used.
Christopher, Lindquist, “Watch Carefully,” CIO Magazine, 2005.
Christopher cites in this article that with meticulous planning, consistent communication and readiness to take care of employee concerns and build trust would go a long way in turning the formerly considered invasive technology into precious service. Accordingly, he emphasizes that the new technologies for tracking and monitoring people combined with suspicious employee could precipitate into problems for the CIOs who sometime fail to respect people’s privacy.
Cook, Laura and Cook, Jack., Ethical Data Mining, Decision Sciences Institute 2002 Annual Meeting Proceedings, 2002 p. 72.
The advent of data mining was a very significant invention in the business world and helped many companies to be able to obtain information that would open up their opportunities as well increased their competitiveness. Firms must manage information strategically to remain competitive and respond faster than competitors to changes. Nonetheless the information should be used ethically and legally. Cook and Cook address the pros and cons of data mining in this paper.
Devries, W. Thomas. ‘Protecting Privacy in the Digital Age,’ Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 2003, 18 (1), 283.
In the digital world and information technology increasingly becoming efficient, anything secret committed to digital form was subject to distribution inevitably. Even though this has greatly affected privacy, the issue has been inflated. However the digital world store people’s information away from them like medical record, account number and PIN numbers in databases that one is not sure of their safety. The privacy legal framework has failed as new technology has rendered the principles on which the laws were based obsolete.
Garfinkel, Simson. Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century, New York: O’Reilly Media, Inc. 2001. Print.
This article identifies the ways of identifying people based on ‘numbers’ rather than their human traits. Garfinkel couples this fact with principles like datasphere and data shadow in the country providing an unquestionably disagreeable scenario of how privacy has been overlooked with improving technology. The new technologies according to him leave people with two options to accept their information to be in public domain or become a hermit with no credit cards or other things that can expose personal information.
Gill, David. ‘The Technological Blind Spot in Business Ethics,’ Bulletin Of Science, Technology & Society, 2001, 19(3), 190-199.
From all perspectives, technology has been confirmed to be transforming the world today. Besides, studies show that more businesses will employs invasive technologies in the future and this comes with consequences. Gill argues that the business ethics and the corporate cultural values have been inevitably affected by new technologies. The technology use has to be checked or it would fail in its responsibility since the consequences could be dire considering that technology is very powerful today.
Jürgensen, Arnd. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 2004, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 55-59.
Arnd explores the alternative policies to the current fight against terrorism. The American society’s vulnerability has been handled primarily with increasing scope of law enforcement and surveillance authority of the federal government. This has been done with blatant disregard of civil liberties and freedoms the public is supposed to enjoy. This means that technology is threatening the prerequisite of meaningful democracy. Alternative policies could target high risk technologies like nuclear firms and civilian airlines to deal with vulnerability concern.
Sherman, Lawrence. Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising, A Report to United States Congress. Washington, D.C. 1996.
Many crime prevention approaches work well to accomplish their goal and some don’t. Most of these programs have not been evaluated with adequate scientific proof according to Sherman and therefore difficult to draw valid conclusions. A report to congress has reported over 500 evaluation of crime prevention approaches. Of importance to this study is surveillance and monitoring of criminal and suspects.