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Do you know that many people believe that if you are a law abiding person, then you should not fear the surveillance of your private property’s activities or searches? The private citizens’ majority and the law-enforcement officers hold to this belief and posit that only the guilty should be afraid. In fact, the law-enforcement officers have in the past invoked this position to conduct the searches on property without the owner’s knowledge. As it is noted by Colbridge, “Kyllo v. United States” was one case that arose from such actions (376). In “Kyllo v. United States”, the police officers had used the thermal imaging to prove that Kyllo was involved in an indoor planting of marijuana. The controversy of the case lay in the absence of a search warrant as stipulated in the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the unreasonable searches. “Kyllo v. United States” brought to the fore the need to rethink the searches on the private properties. In this paper, I aim to challenge the view that the law abiding citizens should not be afraid of their private activities and/or properties surveillance. In my opinion, all the security searches and surveillance on the private activities and/or properties should be guided by a respect to the individual rights. Such surveillance and searches should guarantee that the right to person’s privacy under investigation is without a compromise.
The advent of technology offers the world a significant chance to deter crime. Such technologies as the thermal imaging, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), and cell phones can effectively be used to trace and stop crime (Jordan 49). In turn, this may ensure a safe and secure world. As a result, there is an argument that the security surveillance and searches should be allowed to be carried out everywhere without the barriers whatsoever (Franzen 366). This is because, just like in the hedonism school of thought, the ultimate goal of the human endeavors is happiness. If giving the security surveillance and searches barrier-free use will make the world a better place, then, the move should not generate the controversy. Those who are against the move are seen to have the criminal motives.
In the contrary, I refute the idea of using the security surveillance and searches without the restriction in order to ensure the law abidance. This is because, though the surveillance and searches may bring an interpersonal security, they also bring an intrapersonal insecurity. Just as Franzen has posited, no excuse should take away a person’s right to privacy (369). A human being needs a private space, a fact that is compromised with the knowledge that he/she may be under the constant monitoring. If technology is used for the surveillance as proposed, then the human race risks the psychological imprisonment. This is because many freedoms, which may not necessarily be illegal, will be curtailed. For instance, sometimes people may visit places that they do not want the world to know (e.g. gay conferences). If the surveillance is allowed, such private endeavors may be unearthed. This will cause the irreparable damage to the ones right of conscience and privacy. The conclusion here is that the individual’s rights should not be sacrificed because of the pursuit of the illusionary universal security.
Besides, there is a proposition that the security surveillance and searches have the unique advantage of keeping records of the actions (Colbridge 382). Such records are admissible in a court as the evidence and can help to solve some crime mysteries. Unlike the dependency on the victim’s and suspect’s statements that are prone to alterations, records from the surveillance and searches capture the action as it is. This may help to protect the law-enforcement officers who may be accused of corruption, excessive use of force or other criminal activities. For instance, a CCTV recording may show that the police officer accused of wanton shooting did that as a last option to save his life. On the other hand, the surveillance and searches may protect the public. For example, the person suspected of an indoor cultivation of marijuana may be cleared if the thermal imaging reveals otherwise. As a result, it is argued, that the security surveillance and searches should not be viewed with the suspicion as they are good for all.
Contrarily, it is not entirely true that the records kept by the surveillance systems and searches are valid. First of all, the surveillance systems may not display the whole facility or a place of crime. For example, CCTV’s cannot display every inch of a room (Jordan 49). As a result, sometimes criminal activity is not recorded. Besides, the surveillance devises can easily be thwarted by blocking their lenses using the chewing gum or such like material. If a person is familiar with the devise, he/she may also make it not to work or change the record. The criminal who knows the target property may get around the surveillance cameras and avoid getting caught. Also, a wrong positioning of the surveillance devices may make them not to capture what is intended (Colbridge 378). In addition, the interpretation of information from the surveillance and searches is an error’s subject. Let us take the example of a tapped cell phone. A third party may easily misinterpret a conversation because of the differences in the semantics and lexicology. In the case of cameras, a person may be suspected of driving while drinking, but in the real case, what the person was drinking was a non-alcoholic beverage. The camera cannot distinguish that.
For all the discussed above reasons, the security surveillance and searches should be controlled in order to consider the individual rights. There should be elaborate laws for conducting the security surveillance and searches on the private activities and property. The warrants should accompany all the security surveillance and searches. In addition, the contextual backgrounds of the purported crimes should be taken into account in analyzing the information from the surveillance and searches. Failure to do this will infringe on the individual’s rights to privacy and fair trial. This means that the question of surveillance devises and searches on private activities and property should be considered from a human rights’ perspective.