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World & Current Events > US' Government Censorship

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message 1: by jessica (new)

jessica (xjessicax) | 14 comments It seems that in recent years, disasters such as mass murder and acts of terrorism occur more and more frequently. It's in times like this that it becomes necessary for me to see that government surveillance becomes stronger and more omnipresent. However, the general American public doesn't seem comfortable with this - and some don't think its even a trustworthy way to deter violence.

Americans appear to be uncomfortable about this concept because it feels like their privacy is being violated and the internet is not remaining a free place to say and do as you please - however, if you're not doing anything wrong I don't see why this would be a problem.

The second point I mentioned is that some people think it's unnecessary anyways, because no terrorists or mass murderers would present their ideas in ways that would be easy to detect. Alan Pearce said in his Ted Talk 'The Dark Web' that some dangerous people relay their ideas to likeminded people through online gaming sites such as MLP World or World of Warcraft -- places that the US government would deem unimportant to surveil. If it is impossible to detect violent people this way, is the government doing something that is benefiting the people at all?


message 2: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin I am not sure that you would like to experience the kind of level of government surveillance that you would find in places like North Korea, Myanmar and Erythrea. You already have a sizeable number of people in the USA already railing against what they call 'government tyranny' and say that there is a so-called 'deep state'. So, I suspect that you won't find too many people wishing for more government surveillance and censorship. Finally, you could become scared if you saw how much surveillance/monitoring the government already does.


message 3: by Graeme (last edited Jul 13, 2018 10:31PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi Jessica, thanks for making a fantastic contribution by opening this thread.

I would like to offer a few points as food for thought.

If we look at deaths from terrorism, the vast majority of them occur in countries that could be deemed failed states, or at best developing countries. REF: Statista: https://www.statista.com/statistics/6...

Interestingly enough, countries like the US, UK, Canada, Australia don't even register on the graph.

Further more, on a longer timeframe, deaths from violence are at historical lows. REF: VOX: Oxford Uni: https://www.vox.com/2015/6/23/8832311...

The world we live in is a safe world relative to human history, not that our media will tell us this - imagine the headlines, "World Shock! Peaceful and Safe Times!" it doesn't sell newspapers....

For anyone living in the United States, the current levels of surveillance are arguably in breach of the 4th Amendment: REF: Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_... . Hence in principal illegal, but that is still to be worked out by the people living in the US.

The Patriot Act, instituted the establishment of the modern surveillance state: REF: Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot...

That gives us some of the background to your question.
"Americans appear to be uncomfortable about this concept because it feels like their privacy is being violated and the internet is not remaining a free place to say and do as you please - however, if you're not doing anything wrong I don't see why this would be a problem."

The number one reason this is a problem is that people in the US are giving unaccountable bureaucrats enormous surveillance powers over them.

People given authority abuse it - where are the checks and balances here? The purpose of the 4th amendment is to specifically protect your privacy from unwarranted intrusion by people who happen to be working for the government. Sometimes there's an assumption that working for the government turns people into angels - history proves otherwise.

Your 2nd question goes to "Is this surveillance state actually effective at preventing terrorism and mass-murder?" It's a open question and possibly impossible to establish. I have no answer for that.


message 4: by Graeme (last edited Jul 13, 2018 12:54AM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Michel wrote: "I am not sure that you would like to experience the kind of level of government surveillance that you would find in places like North Korea, Myanmar and Erythrea. You already have a sizeable number..."

Given the concept of "Deep State," as defined here: REF: Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_st...

I have no problem with acknowledging the existence of a deep state, and not only does the US have one, but every current major government has parts of its operation which are beyond being shaped by the will of the people.

One could say that states such as North Korea, have a naked "Deep State," not masked by a veneer (of variable depth) of democracy.


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments I am more supportive of Jessica. The problem others have noted is that nobody is looking at the antics of the Deep State. North Korea is a bad example because there the crime is to oppose Kim. As long as proper law is enforced I think surveillance is not bad at all, and there is too much emphasis in privacy. Here we have had examples where some official has done something questionable, but details are not available because of someone else's privacy concerns, so the official get away with it. The problem is not surveillance, but what some people would do with it, and that has to be controlled. I see no reason that a burglar can keep going because of privacy concerns.


message 6: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments Ian said, "The problem is not surveillance, but what some people would do with it, and that has to be controlled." Therein lies the problem. Controlled by whom? By what agencies? Government agencies? Well, I have no faith in government agencies to limit their own power. So, the problem IS surveillance, in my opinion. People after 9/11 have been willing to give up rights for safety, but at some point, we have to realize that there's a point where safety is less important than preserving our basic civil rights.


message 7: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Was it Washington who said that those who give up freedom for safety will have neither.


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments Yes, but do you want freedom for rapists, murderers, etc??


message 9: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan If you give up freedom, you have no safety from those who control.


message 10: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments Of course not. What a question! Am I willing to be constantly watched by cameras or other means to deter criminals? Absolutely not. No way. That's a kind of imprisonment in itself. Why should I give up my privacy because there are bad guys out there? Why should my freedom be abridged because that's what terrorists want? I say deny them their agenda.


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments So you do not believe in the street surveillance cameras?


message 12: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments No. If individuals and businesses want to install cameras to protect their property, that's logical and ok with me. General surveillance of the public on the street isn't ok with me, but nobody asked me, and that's the problem. You may say that if I'm not doing anything wrong, I shouldn't mind, but that's making me the victim of those who do wrong. It's the dregs of society that are making it ok to watch my every move. That's not ok with me.


message 13: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Bravo Scout. I'm with you.


message 14: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2329 comments Graeme wrote: "Was it Washington who said that those who give up freedom for safety will have neither."

Ben Franklin:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."


message 15: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2329 comments Ian wrote: "Yes, but do you want freedom for rapists, murderers, etc??"

No, but we want to make sure we're not tearing up the Constitution to make sure they go to jail. The reason rapists and murderers have rights when it comes to their detention and prosecution is because we want to make sure they really committed the crime.

This old case just came back into the news:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/12/us...

A black teenager, Emmet Till, was abducted and killed 63 years ago because a woman lied that he grabbed her and made vulgar remarks. The white men who killed him were acquitted in part because of her testimony, but if things had been different and Till was charged in a court on her lies, he would have been convicted and sent to jail for crimes he didn't commit.


message 16: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan J.J. wrote: "Graeme wrote: "Was it Washington who said that those who give up freedom for safety will have neither."

Ben Franklin:

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Sa..."


Thanks J.J. Sorted.


message 17: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments Ian As I who has for a number of years defended those accused of crimes including various crimes that on paper look slam dunks I have discovered my clients has a story, a perspective, a version that is my job to present to the jury. What seems initially as facts do not in the end are correct. I think we all agree that juries decided cases, not the cops, the dts, the District Attorney, Judges or those of the public that do hear all the evidence. Many times I have been retained on a matter that seems hopeless even at the start of the trial, but when witnesses begin to testify they do not always stick to the script that the DA wants them to do and has in a way preped them to do. And their are always problems with identification esp cross racial.

Remember the founding fathers of America believed that it is better that 99 guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted. Now if you want to disagree with that that is your right but change the Constitution and the laws.

A problem with surveillance is that those in charge can use it to spy on their exs perceived enemies, neighbors and others and use it for various causes blackmail etc. And there should be privacy because without privacy there will be a tendency to be guarded and freedom starts to dissapiate


message 18: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Privacy is the foundation of liberty.

No privacy - no liberty.


message 19: by Anita (new)

Anita (neet413) | 78 comments Jessica wrote: "It seems that in recent years, disasters such as mass murder and acts of terrorism occur more and more frequently. It's in times like this that it becomes necessary for me to see that government su..."


"It's in times like this that it becomes necessary for me to see that government surveillance becomes stronger and more omnipresent."

Exactly how much lead paint did you eat as a child?


message 20: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments Well unfortunately I dont think its lead paint. There are too many people who believe the government should keep tabs on "the others"

When we have a Pres before his meeting with the Russian Pres tweeting that the press is the enemy of the American public and the reason for bad relations with Russia is not Russian actions but past Pres and the "Witch Hunt" well what do you expect


message 21: by Holly (new)

Holly (goldikova) Our security risks are incredibly exaggerated. Then again, fear is such a useful tool for controlling people, as long as you don't push it too far and make them panic.

In reality, we all face a far higher chance of dying in a traffic accident, yet few hesitate to get behind the wheel.


message 22: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments The point of surveillance cameras is not to keep tabs on everyone. Have you ever considered what they show? It is usually the most boring thing to watch that you could imagine. Additionally, nobody has suggested that a witness should not be called. I agree with the concept that the innocent should not be found guilty, but witnesses are notoriously wrong, and many people have been convicted wrongly on witness statements, but surveillance cameras do not lie, and while they may not tell everything either, at least they often exclude the innocent.

Similarly, I am not suggesting that such cameras be everywhere, but it is a well-known fact that a surveillance camera around a bus stop greatly reduces pestilent hassling of the old and weak. It is not that someone is busy examining and recording everyone who gets on which bus but rather if someone complains, someone can go back and examine the scene and get clues. It also then acts as a deterrent.

Security risks may be exaggerated, but look at the amount of street crime before and after cameras. Take a parking lot. A camera present is known to reduce wanton vandalism and theft. If you live in a place with little or no theft, great. Most of us do not. Finally, cameras also act as a constraint to police actions, and helps keep them within the law. And please do not say the police always obey the law. They don't, always, all of them.


message 23: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Hi All, let's remember to play nicely.


message 24: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Holly wrote: "Our security risks are incredibly exaggerated. Then again, fear is such a useful tool for controlling people, as long as you don't push it too far and make them panic.

In reality, we all face a f..."


Human beings are notoriously poor at assessing risks.


message 25: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Ian wrote: "The point of surveillance cameras is not to keep tabs on everyone. Have you ever considered what they show? It is usually the most boring thing to watch that you could imagine. Additionally, nobody..."

I think there needs to be a clear distinction between public and private.


message 26: by Graeme (last edited Jul 16, 2018 12:52PM) (new)

Graeme Rodaughan 1984 by George Orwell


As Winston Smith found, in an environment of pervasive surveillance the only opportunity for 'privacy,' was in total darkness (not true now with light intensifier and see through walls technologies).

In the presence of pervasive surveillance those in power can extract 'conformity,' from the general populace to any model they so desire.

The Lucifer Effect Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Philip G. Zimbardo

As the 'Stanford Prison Experiment,' demonstrated, ordinary people put into positions of authority over others will succumb to the temptation to exploit other human beings.

Pervasive surveillance will be used to produce conformity that will be indistinguishable from abuse.

It is human nature to produce that outcome.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments One of the interesting points here is I gather the NSA has the means of tracking all electronic communication and has had this for some time. If the US members here are so against surveillance, why haven't they done something about this?

I disagree with Graeme that pervasive surveillance gives power over others. That is only the case where you have a poor justice system. Any use of it, other than to prosecute a crime is itself a crime, and would be rewarded with a prison sentence. Not you already give a lot of really confidential information to the IRS (or in my case, IRD) and nothing bad happens, and if any use was made of that information other than for the purpose of gathering tax, the person is prosecuted.

The idea of using technology to see through everyone's walls is not only improper, but borders on the ridiculous. Who is going to be doing the watching?


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16076 comments Is censorship and surveillance the same thing? Didn't think so.
If the surveillance is required to combat violence and terror, we should probably need stats to evaluate it effectiveness in achieving these two goals, i.e. how many acts were thwarted with its help vs how many weren't.
Intuitively, if one has nothing to hide, s/he has nothing to fear, yet the fears of abuse are founded.
Just like the battle for keeping manufacturing home, I think the battle for privacy is long lost, as even minor apps, as I understand from the media, can have round the clock access to our location, phone's mike and camera and surely governments can get access too, anytime they want. So far the data is claimed to be used for commercial purposes, like selling us more stuff, basing of what they know about us, but it can definitely be used to manipulate our opinions and behavior on anything basically.
I think, the surveillance capabilities are remarkably precise and piercing, and it's the sorting of the big data coming in trillions of megabytes every second that still keeps a curtain between us and the interested parties on the other end


message 29: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Nik wrote: "I think the battle for privacy is long lost..."

Even given what I've said above, I believe this is largely true.

Privacy has been sold for convenience. The full impact of that trade has not yet been experienced by the general population, however, I'm not hopeful that they will enjoy the end results of the trade.


message 30: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2329 comments Kevin. wrote: "Ian As I who has for a number of years defended those accused of crimes including various crimes that on paper look slam dunks I have discovered my clients has a story, a perspective, a version tha..."

We had a crisis here in NC a few years back when it came out the State Bureau of Investigation was regularly withholding evidence that supported defendants. One of the most egregious cases was the withholding of blood analysis that would have exonerated one murder suspect. This wasn't just a few bad apples spoiling the bunch, this was an entire agency working to circumvent justice for years. This is the danger in thinking "Well, it's ok, because they're criminals."


message 31: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan J.J.

That is precisely what I'm talking about. Give people authority and they'll abuse it.


message 32: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments JJ I see that too often Dealing with it on one of my murder cases


message 33: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16076 comments Kevin. wrote: "JJ I see that too often Dealing with it on one of my murder cases"

Glad to welcome another fellow attorney in the group


message 34: by Kevin. (new)

Kevin. McKernan | 12 comments You sure ? lol


message 35: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16076 comments Time will tell, but it's more interesting to have a wider spectrum of opinions & respectful discourse -:)


message 36: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Respectful discourse between lawyers? Don't these guys yell at and backstab each other in court? (just joking)


message 37: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16076 comments Michel wrote: "Respectful discourse between lawyers? Don't these guys yell at and backstab each other in court? (just joking)"

Hopefully between members here.
There are lots of stereotypes about lawyers, but guess what ..... some of them are true -:)


message 38: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments In my opinion, not being a lawyer :-) the withholding of information that would save a defendant is itself a crime and the perps should be prosecuted, but it is not relevant to the issue of whether there should be public surveillance.

Yes, i gather where you go is tracked by your mobile phone. Doesn't work so well for me because as unless I am sure I am going to need it, the chances are I leave it on my desk at home :-)


message 39: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments Ian said, "One of the interesting points here is I gather the NSA has the means of tracking all electronic communication and has had this for some time. If the US members here are so against surveillance, why haven't they done something about this?"

Well, Ian, you're suggesting that we citizens have the power to do something about the NSA's actions. What would you suggest we do?


message 40: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments I agree with you, Graeme. "Pervasive surveillance will be used to produce conformity that will be indistinguishable from abuse.

It is human nature to produce that outcome."


message 41: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments Scout, you have me there. Unfortunately, the little guy seldom can actually do anything to stop government.


message 42: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6184 comments Thanks, Ian, for listening. I'd ask that you think about giving government carte blanche to surveille citizens, and how that also gives government power to abrogate the rights of the little guy who is just going about his business. And whether we can trust government to limit its own power.


message 43: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11790 comments Scout, I would not give government carte blanche, but I still think, from local experience, that the existence of cameras does stop a lot of small crime and personal hassling and mugging - it has here anyway


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