Do you think that people’s personal data have to be public?
The data collected by different organizations have the potential to be misinterpreted. Everything we do is recorded and submitted into a database, and the police and security services can have access to this data. Information from various sources can then be collated to form a picture of us and reflect on what type of person we are. A snapshot such as this may be a misrepresentation of an individual’s life because it would be difficult to analyze and assess someone – who you don’t know – from so little information or sometimes too much information. In some scenarios, the collated data may wrongly create a suspicious profile of an individual and encourage more surveillance on them, or it could benefit society by gathering evidence of a potential criminal. Grouping data from multiple areas can permit information to be misconstrued.
Another issue with mass surveillance is that there is a risk of discrimination against groups or individuals. For example, in a study conducted over two years by Norris and Armstrong on how operators worked in a CCTV control room.
About the ‘I have nothing to hide argument,’ there is evidence that suggests people should be cautious of surveillance as in some cases general law-abiding citizens can be targeted for no plausible reasons other than pre-conceived negative attitudes.
Overall, the statement “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear from surveillance” is not persuasive. Different methods of mass surveillance negate the right to privacy, allows companies to sell personal data, allows for the risk of data being misinterpreted and, in some cases, allows for discrimination against certain groups when under surveillance. Although, mass surveillance is to some extent necessary and beneficial to modern society for monitoring people as new technology develops and the population grows. Potentially, there is something to fear from surveillance if we cannot control it or know what is being collected.