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Research Papers on Government Surveillance

Research papers on government surveillance include timely information on the most recent revelations that the United States Government does spy on its citizens. Our writers can write a government surveillance paper from either stance, for or against, government surveillance or on any other topic having to do with this form of spying.

Surveillance can be defined as the monitoring of any behavior or activity, with the intent of either protection or influencing. Much surveillance can be done at a distance through the use of electronic equipment. As such, many government entities, from the local to the federal level, engage in forms of surveillance.

Government Surveillance

Government Surveillance in Public Places

Government surveillance can range from CCTV cameras in public places in order to safeguard against crime, to revelations that the United States federal government has sponsored programs to collect vast amounts of data from the Internet and cell phone records.

Each year, the Department of Homeland Security offers grants to local, state, and federal agencies for the purpose of video surveillance. Most of these cameras are placed for the purpose of traffic monitoring, but many are used simply for general public surveillance.

In 2013, reports surfaced regarding various surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA), revelations brought to light by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor. Snowden delivered documents to news agencies that detailed how the NSA collected phone records and email of both American citizens and foreigners, including the leaders of American allies. Snowden was charged with espionage and theft. These revelations led to charges that the U.S. government was behaving like Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984.

Human Rights and Government Surveillance

The central question that arises is whether or not it is indeed possible to balance the protection of the masses with the civil and human rights of the individual during a time of crisis. While there are a few authors who assert that this balance is possible, for the most part, scholars examining the situation contend that there is no effective method that has yet been developed to completely protect the individual citizen from usurpation of rights when terrorism arises. One of the most pervasive threats that scholars see to the protection of individual citizen rights is the USA Patriot Act. Research observes that there are a number of provisions in the act that specifically erode civil and human rights in the name of protecting the homeland against terrorism. These specific provisions include:

  • The Patriot Act broadly defines a new branch of crime as “domestic terrorism.” Under this category any activist group can be labeled under this heading. When this assignment is made, law enforcement officials are given almost unlimited power to investigate and prosecute these groups.
  • The Patriot Act gives the government the power to monitor religious and political organizations, even if no wrong doing has been reported. “Similar methods were used to harass groups the disagreed with government policies on civil rights and the Vietnam War.
  • The USA Patriot Act rescinds all fourth Amendment rights to legal search and seizure. Under the Patriot Act, groups or individuals suspected of terrorist activity can be investigated and have property seized without a warrant or probable cause.
  • Many of the rights guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment of the constitution have been usurped. “The USAPA calls for mandatory detention of suspected terrorists, suspension of habeas corpus, and waiver of judicial review. People so designated may be denied a speedy and public trial, the right to be informed of the charges against them, to confront their accusers and to have access to legal counsel”.

Your research paper may want to argue that while the specific context of these provisions is well intentioned—i.e. in order for the government to take a zero tolerance stand against terrorism—the reality is that the specific mandates outlined under the Patriot Act severely hinder the rights of the individual. Given that the American judicial system is predicated upon an innocent until proven guilty ideology, many of the specific implements of the USA Patriot Act appear to directly interfere with this paradigm. In the process, the Patriot Act significantly diminishes the ability of the individual to protect his or her basic civil rights.

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