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Free «Surveillance and Social Control» Essay Sample


In an age computer hackers, terrorists and thieves identification there is public threat to security and there is sophistication in safety and difficulty in their prevention. The problem to be dealt with similarly requires techniques that are advance and surveillance form CCTV, ID cards, bugging and DNA records. The art of surveillance is a tool that is commonly used by private investigators and law enforcement. Surveillance is the observation of a group of persons or persons closely, mostly who are suspected of something bad or illegal.

How and Why Surveillance is used by law enforcement

Law enforcement can use surveillance for many reasons that include investigation furtherance or one that is ongoing. Surveillance can also be used to gather information and evidence or accumulation of intelligence about a criminal activity that actually under suspicion. In corporations there is use of electronic surveillance to have security maintained at their grounds and buildings or gather competitors information to their advantage. Other reasons why surveillance may be used is to enhance security for property and property, to prevent and detect impermissible or wrongful activity and appropriation of valuable, embarrassing, useful, scandalous and discrediting information (Bill, 2011). The law tries to keep a balance between need for surveillance and interests of those in the picture as private. Through surveillance it is used to attempt to have manifestations or assurance of safety in environment.



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There are some most prevalent types of surveillance electronics which include videotaping, bugging phones and wire tapping. Wire tapping is done by telegraphically intercepting messages and calls from telephones physically penetrating the circuitry wire. Bugging can also be done by placing a microphone that is small or an listening device in a location for transmissions of conversations to a recorder and receiver that is nearby. While surveillance using video is obtained by having hidden cameras that are able to transmit and have records for images that are visual that can be watched immediately or viewed later on tape (Jason, 2009).

Effects of Surveillance on Society

With advantages of surveillance in the workplace comes a host of effects that are negative. In companies, surveillance is put in place to prevent theft and improve productivity also increasing safety of the employees. Surveillance in a workplace can have an employee detrimental to their retention and morale. Some of the surveillance that are used in a workplace monitoring of the phones, video cameras and surveillance of the internet which should be weighed carefully to see if surveillance is really necessary due to the effects on the employees.

Surveillance at the workplace make employees feel being frequently watched by the superiors by phone monitoring and emails which creates a feeling of distrust and hate that may actually lead to stress due to the great pressure to perform well, perform and maintenance of productivity.

In the place of work and general public also serious privacy invasion issues may arise that are unlawful and degrading. Cameras for surveillance set up in rest rooms, changing areas or other areas that are private create embarrassing situations and some level of privacy is expected in areas like this as having such moments documented on film, creates the risk of the material falling into the wrong hands or be misused in a manner that is abusive. Having surveillance on email accounts, records on use of the web, computers and conversations on the phone creates situations that employers spend time to look for reasons to fire employees even if the termination are not justified truly.

Personal data collection and surveillance needs to be regulated very tightly to avoid abuse from individuals, the government and individuals. The mismanagement of health and social security, CCTV,ID cards and retention technologies for data has the potential to cause personal or public destruction of image from terrorist hackers, criminals that aim to destroy personal data and health care records. Theft of this information may lead to services for example credit being refused and one may become subject to suspicion or have debts they are chased for that they had no incurrence.

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Security leaks is also a negative effect of surveillance on society as where personal data is leaked, an example is if the health database of NHS was leaked could jeopardize potential patients that their medical records exposes them to threats from, blackmailers or groups of fanatics for example if they are HIV positive.

In the surveillance of tracking, out of all the cases most of the data breakdowns are not inspiring as when the subject for the target is chosen, mostly because of the perceived categorization by race or clothing. These concerns are specifically given to the police, public monitors or actual suspect behavior. Blacks are twice or more likely to be singled out for no reason at all. These biases in society are not acceptable as most of the employees like them are young individuals scraping for a low paying job to earn a living.

Emotional space tries to give an understanding of the impact of surveillance which they are under emotionally. The most obvious for surveillance is instilling a sense of security and safety but the attitudes are also a factor to be considered. Some of the individuals are uncertain who is watching and feel bad and uneasy and brings about feelings of vulnerability. For example for a woman in a station subway, a camera may put her at ease to feel safe but the camera being in control and one being under its control means that one is not in control of the situation. Surveillance hence can be said to have both positive and negative in the society at large but the effects on the negative have a greater effect on the individuals that are put under surveillance for no particular reason at all.

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The 4th amendment violations, civil rights violations, laws, and policies regarding surveillance

Civil rights violations have led to demonstrations in different countries, fighting for rights that involve surveillance laws. Not many laws have been put in place to control and govern where, how and what type surveillance should be used and policies regarding surveillance have been developed by organizations to help the government and employers mostly leaving employees at a disadvantage in relation to their privacy and risks that may arise from abusing information collected from the surveillance.

The Fourth amendment guarantees "[tire right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. notes that " It even provides that "no warrants shall issue, but upon cause that is probable which is in oath and describes places to be searched, things or persons to be seized (Julie, 2000)." This amendment was put in place to protect the general public against the abuse of the law enforcement and regulates what should be done and how. As the emphasized by the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling decision in Katz v. United States, which still provides the key legal test for what counts as a "search," "what a person knowingly exposes to the public . . . is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection ((Julie, 2000)." "It does not protect against suspicionless examinations (no matter how rigorous)-public camera networks would seem to be outside of the Fourth Amendment's ambit, at least as long as their focus remains on public space and does not wander into private homes, offices, or other enclosed areas ((Julie, 2000)."

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The PATRIOT act of 2001 ushered and there was expansion in enforcement on laws and also foreign intelligence in electronic surveillance and even on the internet. The government was given the ability to have surveillance conducted but this legislation cuts down on critical protections of privacy severely to a degree that is unprecedented. The PATRIOT act has given authorization to law enforcements with the ability to use surveillance techniques that have greatly increased, Which include obtaining sensitive records that are personal, email tracking and usage of the internet, covert searches conduction and evasion of the Fourth Amendment requirement of probable cause.


Ethically surveillance should only be put in place and used in extreme situations that are most obvious for surveillance in instilling a sense of security and safety on a person or persons, places and to the country at large. There are increased risks in society that come from putting in place surveillance that society has little control of as they are mostly carried out by government institutions and hence the government should look into this to avoid violations of human rights to its people.


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