Many counties keep watching on people under the name of ” ensure social safety”. However, is it a price too high to do so? Is it really necessary that we need such a surveillance to guarantee our safety?
1) Your address book is the NSA’s address book
According to the Washington Post, NSA has been collecting millions of email and chat contact lists around the world (West 2013). Although the spokesman claimed that they would not invade ordinary people’s information around untied states, people still feel insecure and worried about such a watching. Surveillance just like an intangible hand makes people feel extremely uncomfortable. Even if the government emphasis this surveillance would not influence average people’s lives, no one can deny the line between public and private surveillance has become more and more blurring. For most of the people, installing monitors in the shopping mall is acceptable, but if you find a monitor in the fitting room, you must feel panic. I bet most of the people believe chat contact lists belong to the area of “fitting room” instead of the public mall. For a long-term, people will generate a sense of uncertainty and untrust towards the government, which decreases country’s cohesion. What’s more, thanks to government surveillance, the gap between watcher and watched gradually widened. Richards details that such disparity creates a series of consequences such as ” discrimination, coercion, and the threat of selective enforcement”. (Richards 2013, p. 1945). As the watcher accumulate more and more information by watching, they will definitely transfer this source into political discourse, which turns out a huge gap between the government and the watched.
2) The United States is hacking China
It was also revealed through Snowden’s leak that NSA has hacked China mainland and Hongkong computers. When this news came out in CCTV( China Central Television), many Chinese shocked. Just like West said, Snowden’s statement deteriorates the relationship between China and US over hacking.
Richards explains this behavior in a more specific way. “Most forms of surveillance seek some form of subtler influence or control over others” (Richards, 2013, p. 1952-1953). It reminds me the Cold War period, by spying on the other countries the government collected information and gained more power. Today, Cold War ends, but the contest still exists. The goal of this spying behavior is to guarantee the government able to be one step ahead of any move made by other counties. However, this type of upper hand can lead to blackmail, discrimination and finally caused distrust between two countries.