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Social Control and Data Surveillance by the Government and Private Entities

The government plays a vital role in the management of citizens’ affairs, both private and public. Further, the government must ensure that there is a conducive environment for various stakeholders to realize their dreams as well as their rights in economic, social, political, educational, technological, and healthcare spheres. Data collection by the government is aided by computer and technology firms in computer and internet business. Data mining can lead to the breach of personal rights, which requires a proper information surveillance for the government and private organizations (Todd, Bloch, & Fitzgerald, 2013). Therefore, the government and private entities play a vital role in the social control and data surveillance in regards to enhancing safety and security, justice, and ensuring the adherence to the rule of law.

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Justifications for Social Control and Data Surveillance


The federal government has a duty to regulate communication and ensure that all participants are guaranteed a level playing ground. Social and data surveillance by the government is anchored in the laws and regulations, and this is done in the interest of the public good (Todd et al., 2013). In contemporary world, where digital crimes are a serious challenge, data surveillance is advisable to identify and prosecute crimes. The National Security Agency (NSA) stores metadata about Americans’ local and international telecommunication for 5 years without any feeling of wrongdoing. This information is kept by the government, and it can be retrieved when there is need to analyze a particular person or a group’s communication if there is suspicion of security threat (Gregory, 2016). Consequently, this information is essential in helping security agencies perform their duties.

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Social control is ethical if it is performed within the law and driven by the need to combat crimes and harmful actions that has a negative implication for the public welfare. Pornographic material and hate messages deserve censorship, hence the importance of data surveillance and social controls by the government (Douglas, 2014). Without the government regulations, the public would be exposed to destructive information that can only bring harm. Pornography and other misleading and immoral content are some of the challenges to contemporary digital world. Pornographic sites are monitored and censored to control access and use by the minors (Todd et al., 2013). Therefore, the government must perform data surveillance to mitigate potential social challenges that come with the abuse of such sites.

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Private firms are also helpful in conducting the government-led data surveillance in the United States. Thus, such digital technology giants as Google and Yahoo comply with the government requests for information regarding specified people and firms (Gregory, 2016). Moreover, some organizations, for example, schools impose social controls to prevent the minors from accessing harmful materials, including pornography. In this respect, the government has the right to implement legal and technological structures to address threats that arise from the use of computer and digital technologies. If the US Government cannot effectively monitor all areas of computer and digital technology use, private firms must also play their role.

A proper government policy ought to protect the common good while leaving the public to enjoy their rights and freedoms. Social controls and surveillance infringe on the liberties of citizens. The private life of citizens can be secretly monitored by government agencies without people’s express knowledge, which can be detrimental if the information gathered is used illegally to harm someone. However, where there is a critical need for the government to overlook those rights to guarantee the public security, such barriers are removed (Todd et al., 2013). Digital crimes can only be addressed adequately through data surveillance, which can justify the government regulations and policies that cover the area of social control and data surveillance.

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Combating Cybercrime

Countering cybercrimes entails proper gathering of intelligence information to identify the sources of threats. The government as an entity that is charged with the responsibility to secure the country has a legitimate obligation to use all available means to protect citizens and their properties. The government that cannot guarantee safety to its population endangers their enjoyment of basic human rights and freedoms. Cyberterrorism and bullying are crimes that can be fought properly when there is accurate information on the offenders. In most case, fictitious accounts are used to commit online crimes (Gregory, 2016). However, with proper government data surveillance and controls, it becomes easier to catch perpetrators.  

At the same time, hacking is a serious challenge for contemporary society, but this problem can also be addressed through data surveillance. Thus, hackers can be a threat to any sector that uses the internet and digital technology. Financial institutions lose money because of online criminals who gain an authorized entry into their systems and manipulate data and transactions. The secrecy, which is involved in such crimes, makes it hard for the affected institutions to identify the culprits without the help of data surveillance (Gregory, 2016). Therefore, the government and private firms have the right to perform data fishing to deal with the cases of hacking and cybercrime. 

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Behavioral-based surveillance, which uses modern technology, helps the US Government in identifying potential security dangers. Subsequently, the control of social media is vital in ensuring national security. Digital media provides plenty of information about individuals, which can be useful in addressing security and safety issues. Radicals, who want to influence others to join their cause, can be identified and stopped without causing more harm (Todd et al., 2013). Secret communications can be unearthed to save the public good. Terror cells often use computer technologies to communicate with each other, which gives the government intelligence units the best opportunity to snoop into their engagements (Engelhardt & Greenwald, 2014).  Nevertheless, it is important to note that the privacy of citizens ought to be protected, except for the cases where there are compelling grounds to compromise one’s privacy for security purposes.

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Cyberterrorism is one of the contemporary types of terrorism that present serious challenges for society. The source of terror threats is detected through data surveillance, which helps the government to neutralize them (Guzik, 2016). However, it is important to note that it would be tough to combat this type of crime without engaging in data fishing. Terrorists employ camouflaging that is difficult to fight without resorting to sophisticated intelligence-gathering tools (Boghosian, 2013). In this respect, the government’s snooping of the private communications and online activities of suspected parties is useful in suppressing extremists’ activities that pose a security threat. In this case, data surveillance can be justified.

Justice and the Rule of Law

The government has a legal and political duty to ensure that there is justice and the rule of law. The judiciary and executive branches are interdependent in discharging justice. Courts do not investigate the committed crimes before making a ruling, but they rely on police investigations to boost their judgment (Engelhardt & Greenwald, 2014). Thus, security forces have intelligence gathering units that have surveillance teams. Consequently, the investigations of crimes, especially those that involve computer and digital technology, may seek the support of data surveillance departments to obtain accurate information on what has transpired (Gregory, 2016). Thus, these actions can justify the government data surveillance.

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Additionally, the state has to ensure that individuals and private firms observe the rule of law in their online transactions and the use of computer technology. For instance, financial institutions are not expected to engage in money laundering, a problem that has been exacerbated by the advent and use of computer technology. Individuals, engaged in money laundering, collude with financial institutions to wire money to and from these institutions. Therefore, government data surveillance helps in detecting and taking legal actions against the entities that engage in this kind of crime (Boghosian, 2013). Consequently, the importance of data fishing in enhancing justice and the rule of law in the United States is obvious.

The duty of protecting the US national security rests with the government agencies such as the intelligence community. When security threats arise, either internal and external, the government seeks information from intelligence agencies on the scope of the challenge and the ways for it to be handled (Guzik, 2016). Thus, security agencies identify threats by studying the behaviors of particular criminals and crime suspects. Gathered information helps in building a case against those involved. Justice is delivered when there is credible information about a crime incidence to avoid fabrications or case collapse on the grounds of inadequate investigations (Boghosian, 2013). Consequently, the government has the right to perform data surveillance in case of security challenges and when it needs to promote justice.

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The mining of data and social control by the government and private entities are acceptable if it they are managed properly to protect the common public interests such as security, justice, and the rule of law. Fishing of data and social control is proper when it is legal and anchored on maximizing the public good. Wars on cybercrime and terrorism require extra-intelligence gathering, which demands controlled data surveillance. Private institutions also perform security surveillance to protect their interest from attacks and crimes. Therefore, data surveillance and social control by the state and private organizations is proper when it is done within the law and in the interest of the public, justice, and security of the country.

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