Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ben Franklin S/R

Ben Franklin’s quote from 1759 portrays the distrust our country’s citizens feel today. Our government has access to our daily lives through technology, and to most people, this feels like an unnecessary precaution for the government to take. Many protest against the government because they don’t want their lives to be spied on, even if it is beneficial to the majority of the population.
Ben Franklin’s quote correctly portrays how the government’s knowledge of American citizens impacts people’s lives, and how that knowledge creates a certain level of distrust between the people and it’s government. In recent years, it has become more and more apparent that the government has access to your entire life through the use of technology. They have created an information database on everyone in the United States by gaining access to medical records, insurance policies, and even credit card accounts. But think about this, if the government can access all of your personal information, couldn’t they do the same to criminals? Is it possible that putting your faith in the government by allowing them to have access to your personal information is worth it, if the government can put systems in place that protect your well being? How can we say that giving up that small piece of freedom isn’t justified, when having certain information about a person could help stop a 9/11 attack from ever happening again? In a CNN report it was said that, “Leveraging Facebook is just one of many ways law enforcement officials are gleaning evidence from social media to help them solve crimes” (CNN). Because the law enforcement officers on this specific case had access to Facebook accounts, they were able to catch a New York gang member who had charges of murder, weapons, and narcotics-related crimes. Having this man off the streets of New York makes the city safer for all, and it is because technology helped to build a case against him. However, in the process of building cases against criminals and terrorists, the government has also been collecting information on the common, everyday American citizen. How a case is built against anyone who is suspected of committing a crime is, the government combs through mounds of social media information, then picks out what it needs and doesn’t need for the case. But, whatever it doesn’t need is stored in the database, which continues to grow as more and more social media accounts are looked at. This is what makes many Americans feel very uncomfortable. Edward Snowden, who has helped bring to light the issues of government surveillance, has recently released information on this subject, “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded” (Edward Snowden). In his releases, Snowden has discussed the sheer amount of information the government has collected on U.S. citizens. He describes the truth of the matter that even if you have done nothing wrong, you are still being watched in unnecessary ways. Possibly having the government keep you under surveillance for any period of time makes American citizens angry and distrustful. Many think that, government surveillance is a very unnecessary program and it needs to stop immediately. It is understandable why someone might interpret government surveillance in this way because, it is an uncomfortable feeling that you’re being watched around the clock. This interpretation is helpful, but it misses the important point of, criminals and terrorists are also being watched. In many ways, government surveillance saves lives and keeps people safe, instead of just creepily spying on citizens in the way that many people believe. Ben Franklin’s quote correctly portrays the pros and cons of government surveillance and how this topic creates distrust between the people and its government.