Should Governments be Able to Surveil their Citizens?


David Domansky '23, Writer

Governments are watching their citizens more closely as technology advances, and they are doing so without their citizens’ knowledge. Many people believe that the government is watching or monitoring their every move, infringing on their right to privacy. Governments monitor every online transaction and monitor public spaces, allowing them to collect a person’s facial signature. People argue that constant surveillance is excessive and is used to collect data rather than to protect its citizens. Because privacy is a basic human right, people may act differently and change their lives as a result of constant surveillance. 


London’s police force has begun using facial recognition technology to identify criminal suspects with video cameras as they roam the streets, a level of surveillance that is uncommon outside of China. The majority of facial recognition systems used in other countries,  match a photo against a database to identify a person, this is not going to be used in London.  The new developments created software that can instantly identify individuals on a police watch list when they are captured on video.


Although the right to privacy is being violated, many argue that surveillance is doing its job of protecting citizens. Governments have been able to prevent numerous acts of violence, such as terrorism, through the use of surveillance, saving many lives. Most governments already know what their citizens look like, where they live, and how much money they make, making monitoring unnecessary. Finally, the government monitors all citizens, but it rarely interferes with people’s lives and usually goes unnoticed. Citizens now live in a safer environment thanks to the use of surveillance. The debate over surveillance will continue, but I believe that keeping people protected is worth giving up some of our privacy.