Big Brother: Living in a Surveillance State
Since the introduction of the Patriot Act, Americans have lived in fear of their government spying on their daily lives. Currently, Big Brother monitors everything you do, from phone conversations with your family and friends to your work emails.
The government runs these mass surveillance programs disregarding the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects every American from unreasonable searches and seizures.
The idea of a government spying on its citizens’ private lives is frightening and is against the constitution. It is also reminiscent of authoritarian regimes such as the Communist Party of China (CCP), which aims to repress its citizens’ freedom of expression to maintain power.
Surveillance programs are typical of tyrannical governments that fear and distrust their citizens. Such governments lack the legitimacy to govern the country on behalf of their citizens. Unsurprisingly, Americans have increasingly become dissatisfied with the federal government.
Similarly, Big Brother’s mass surveillance is against the values of limited government that we strive to achieve as a nation. Running spy programs requires thousands of bureaucrats at every level of society unilaterally making critical decisions that would otherwise require a legal mandate.
For example, the bureaucrats decide who to wiretap without obtaining a warrant that would otherwise require proof of probable cause.
Additionally, running surveillance programs is expensive and wasteful and does not make us any safer.
For example, the NSA’s call metadata program that logged Americans’ phone conversations cost taxpayers $100 million and did not provide any useful information.
The government could have spent the money on useful programs such as supporting our veterans or enhancing our cybersecurity from foreign cyber threats.
For example, Iranian, North Korean, Chinese, and Russian state-sponsored hackers continue to penetrate our federal networks and steal critical information while the government is preoccupied with spying on its citizens.
Likely, personal information illegally collected by government surveillance programs could end up in the hands of our traditional adversaries.
For example, hackers breached the U.S. Marshals Service on February 17, 2023, and stole investigative data, including personal information.
Although the incident did not include data illegally collected, the government is unlikely to acknowledge when hackers breach data obtained through illegal surveillance programs.
Since such programs run in a legal vacuum, the data they collect is more likely to be insecurely stored outside mainstream government systems that require an explicit legal mandate to store or retrieve data.
Similarly, the government frequently experiences politically-motivated data leaks, exposing protected information.
Depending on the government’s ideological stance, illegal surveillance programs can be used to target certain unwanted groups, such as gun rights groups or firearm owners.
For example, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been secretly collecting data on gun owners contrary to the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act. The illegally collected firearm ownership data could be used to target such individuals for intimidation.
Unsurprisingly, the Biden Administration collected 54 million records of firearms in 2021, seemingly to create a “federal gun registry” that is prohibited by provisions of the Gun Control Act.
Big Brother demonstrates the government’s disregard for the constitution and its failure to legally perform its duties without undermining its citizens’ rights.
Additionally, mass surveillance programs are expensive and wasteful and provide no real benefits to the country.
Lastly, the government has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with data based on previous data breaches and politically-motivated leaks.
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