It’s easy to subscribe to the idea that a government that remains aloof from the business of its people is a good way to safeguard the right to privacy of the individual; modernity is full of examples of what too much government oversight can lead to, from China to North Korea. However, though seemingly analogous, the cases of China and North Korea give no pertinent information as to how increases in the US government’s latitude to watch its citizenry would play out. However, given the current sociopolitical climate of the nation and the state of advancing technology, independent of the examples of other nations, it’s clear to see that the US would actually benefit from increased government surveillance.
One such case where the US population would benefit is law enforcement. One needn’t look further than the case of the Golden State Killer to see how law enforcement can leverage advancing technologies in surveillance and tracking to catch and hold notorious killers and criminals accountable, even decades after the fact. Further, with criminals being able to leverage advancing technologies in order to further their own malicious goals, the ability for police to track and identify threats must increase accordingly, or else law enforcement will be powerless to stop or at the very least mitigate potential damages. Altogether, it’s not hard to see all the potential benefit that might come in allowing the government to leverage advancing technologies in a manner that would increase their ability to watch the populace.
Yet, there still exists resistance to the idea, borne of an inherent distrust of government and its actions. A principle argument against the granting of increased power to the government is how it will inevitably lead to a slippery slope into fascism; as the adage says “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. However, who’s to say that the government of the United States of America is not already too powerful, under that framework. With the largest defense budget in the world as well as an army, navy, and air force that can be mobilized in an instant, no right bestowed upon the individual could possibly stop the U.S. from becoming a fascist state if it so chooses; the events in Hong Kong could as easily play out in New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles should the government as a whole see it fit. So what’s stopping it? Our democratic institutions, from freedom of the press to democratic elections, and many more beyond. So long as we don’t allow increased surveillance to erode away at the fundamental principles that uphold our democracy, increased surveillance will not be the first domino tipped in a long chain of events that will turn the US into yet another totalitarian regime. Rather, it will be a tool to augment national security and keep innocent people safe in an age that seems to grow more dangerous by the minute.