Ethics of Surveillance Essay

Ethics of Surveillance Essay

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The world erupted in outrage following revelations by Edward Snowden regarding the extent of surveillance perform by the National Security Agency. Privacy becomes one of the hottest topic of 2013 and was chosen by the world’s most popular online dictionary,, as the Word of the Year. However, the government is not the only one that conduct data gathering and surveillance. Employers often monitor their employees, and businesses collect data on theirs customer. The morality of these practices is a topic that generates heated debate.
One type of surveillance is employee monitoring. Many employers monitor their workers’ activities for one reason or another. Companies monitor employees using many methods. They may use access panels that requires employees to identify themselves to control entry to various area in the building, allowing them to create a log of employee movements. They may also use software to monitor attendance and work hours. Additionally, many programs allows companies to monitor activities performed on work computers, inspect employee emails, log keystrokes, etc. An emerging methods of employee monitor also include social network and search engine monitoring. Employers can find out who their employees are associated with, as well as other potentially incriminating information. (Ciocchetti)
Employees are not the only people whose information interest companies. To a far greater extent, businesses are looking to gather data on their users and the market in general. User data collection has become one of the most important components of market research. For example, online retailers can use data collected from a consumer’s purchase to target advertising on products that the consumer is most likely to buy....

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... potentially criminal. Similar to the collection of consumer data, the information gathered by the government is also subject to abuse by people who are granted access privilege. For example, in 2007, a federal agent was charged with using a government database to track the travel pattern of his ex-girlfriend (Lee).
Ultimately, however, surveillance is only a tool that can be used both ethically and unethically. Employee monitoring, consumer data collection, and government surveillance provides great benefits, including improving company efficiency, providing commercial and health values, and protecting the nation from threats. However, when considering the extent to which surveillance can be done, the rights of the people affected must be taken into account. Finding the right balance between these two views is the key to maximizing the benefits of everyone involved.

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