Sample GP (General Paper) Content Notes and Lecture

Politics 2: National Security vs Privacy

illum.e General Paper Division 2022

Politics Lecture 2

Governance - National Security vs. Privacy
Paper 1 Content Knowledge & Evaluative Strategies

Downloadable PDF - here!

Learning Outcomes:

Student should be able to understand –
1. The Social Contract and other theories of Governments

2. Why national security conflicts with privacy

3. The benefits and drawbacks of state surveillance


Sections and Glossary

1.0 Theories of Governance
2.0 Theories of Surveillance
3.0 Why are national security and surveillance necessary?
4.0 When will national security and surveillance be unnecessary?
5.0 Evaluation

Question Analysis/ Trends:

1.      ‘Personal privacy and national security cannot co-exist.’ Comment. (RI 2015)

2.      “Now more than ever, the surveillance of people is necessary for national security.” To what extent do you agree? (RI 2016)

3.      How far do you agree that freedom has been destructive for society? (RI 2017)

4.      To what extent should the State be responsible for protecting our privacy? (EJC 2019)

5.      Should privacy be sacrificed for the sake of national security? (RVHS 2019)

6.      With the proliferation of the Internet, is privacy more desirable today? (VJC 2019)

7.      Is the protection of privacy worthwhile? (JPJC 2018)

8.      To what extent should we give up our privacy for the sake of security? (NJC 2018)

9.      ‘Surveillance of the people is a necessary evil.’ Discuss. (RI 2018)

10.   How far can the State's surveillance of citizens be justified? (DHS 2017)

11.   In our world of uncertainty, we can never have too much security.’ Do you agree? (NJC 2017)

12.   Examine the view that government surveillance does not really contribute to greater security. (NYJC 2016)

13.   How far should governments be allowed to limit their citizens’ rights in the name of security? (MI 2015)

14.   ‘Security is far more important than liberty.’ Discuss. (PJC 2015)

15.   The State has no place in the private lives of its citizens.’ Do you agree? (RI 2015)

16.   ‘The war on terror is an attack on our liberties.’ To what extent do you agree? (TJC 2018)

17.   Considering the increasing threat of terrorism, are governments justified in limiting people’s rights? (AJC 2017)

18.   Should governments protect individual freedoms in times of political unrest? (TMJC 2020)

19.   In view of growing threats in the world, how far is increased governmental power justifiable? (MI 2020)

20.   ‘Personal privacy is more a luxury than a necessity today.’ How far do you agree? (CJC 2020)

21.   Evaluate the claim that governments should not be allowed to restrict the rights of their citizens. (JPJC 2019)

22.   Is online vigilantism a justifiable way of managing rule breakers? (CJC 2020)

23.   To what extent is it possible and desirable for people to have more privacy? (MI 2020)

24.   How far is state intervention in matters of language acceptable? (EJC 2020)

25.   The increased level of surveillance today has made the world a safer place to live in. How far do you agree? (ASRJC 2021)

26.   How far should a government have the right to restrict the freedom of its citizens? (CJC 2021)

27.    ‘Only those with something to hide are concerned about losing their privacy.’ Discuss. (DHS 2021)

28.   Do you agree that the police have too much power today? (NYJC 2021)

29.   Should individual rights and freedom be protected at all costs? (RI 2021)

30.   Should the state intervene in matters relating to one’s body? (RI 2021)

31.   ‘Governments should not interfere in the running of big businesses.’ Comment (RVHS 2021)

32.   ‘In times of crisis, governments should aim for compliance rather than consensus.’ Discuss (RVHS 2021)

33.   ‘Governments should never hide the truth from their people.’ Do you agree? (TJC 2021)

34.   Should the rights of individuals be more important than the interests of their society today? (VJC 2021)

35.   'National interests should always come before the interests of the individual.' Discuss. (YIJC 2021)


Part 1: Theories of Governance – Rights and Responsibilities of the State
To begin with, let us first consider the roles and responsibilities of the state. In general, there are a number of debates and viewpoints on the role of the state in managing society throughout time.


1A: The Social Contract Theories

The social contract theories concern the fundamental question of politics – the extent of our individual freedom and the extent of the authority of the state. Central to this nature of the relationship between the freedom of the individual with the authority of the state.


Plato – The Republic (375 BC)

Human nature:
Man must be “true” to his “natural calling/purpose”. Each person will be happy engaging in the occupation that suits them best. If the city as a whole is happy, then individuals are happy.

The state of nature
According to Plato, people live in an orderly universe. The basis of this orderly universe or nature are forms, most fundamentally the Form of the Good. Plato describes the Form of the Good as “the brightest region of Being.” The Form of the Good is the cause of all things and it can lead a person to act wisely.

Plato also points out that humans are compelled to pursue the good, though no one can hope to do so successfully without philosophical reasoning.

The social contract

In the Republic, Plato argues for an ideal society where people are divided into 3 groups, according to their “natural purpose”: workers (who do manual labour for society); soldiers (who look after society); and guardians (who govern society).

Plato also warns against ambition, upward or downward mobility, and doing something simply because it is popular or simply because one has the power to do it. Each of these actions can lead us away from people’s “nature” and bring unhappiness to themselves and “injustice” to the state.

Nature of the sovereign/power

The “guardians” are most “naturally” suited to lead. And philosophers are “naturally” suited to comprise the guardian group, as they most fully pursue the life of reason and would therefore be good with policy making.


Plato advocates for the idea of a philosopher-king. As he puts it:

“Until philosophers’ rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils, nor, I think, will the human race."

Thomas Hobbes – The Leviathan (1651)

Human nature
Man is rational, self-interested, with an interest in amassing power and is never completely satisfied.

The state of nature
Since resources are finite, competition would be inevitable, and this, combined with a general equality of man, makes the state of nature, a war of all against all (Hobbes 1996: 88). Without the presence of any strong or dominant power holders, chaos and conflict will be a constant feature of society. Hobbes described life in a state of nature in the following quote:

‘In such condition, there is no place for industry…culture; …Navigation; commodious building; …knowledge; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worse of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish and short’ (Hobbes, 1996: 89)

The social contract
Since the state of nature is so undesirable, Hobbes argued that men would rationally desire to leave such a dreadful condition, and live under a sovereign, who would provide order and predictability in the form of laws and enforcement of laws (Rawls, 2007: 73). This would ensure one’s self-preservation.

This is done through the creation of a social contract where every man covenants with every man to give up all of the rights that he can give to the sovereign (Hobbes, 1996: 120-121).

The sovereign is authorised to act on behalf of the people, but he is not obligated to the people, since the contract is a horizontal contract among the people, and the sovereign is not party to the contract (Hobbes, 1996: 120-121). Doing so ensures that the sovereign is vested with sufficient powers, which is the precondition for establishing an orderly political society since it keeps men obedient (Levine, 2002: 35).

Nature of the sovereign/power

Hobbes further emphasised the need for a powerful sovereign by illustrating his preference for monarchy over other forms of governments because of the fact that power would be vested in only one person, which would make the monarch’s rule and power united and unrivalled, thereby reducing the possibility of power struggles and a disastrous return to the state of nature. Hobbes emphasises the need for absolutism - the idea of the ‘Leviathan’ being uncontested.

John Locke - Two Treatises of Government (1689)

Human nature
By nature, man is a good and social creature that can learn from experience. Human nature is characterised by reason and tolerance.

The state of nature
In the state of nature, all men are free and equal. For Locke, “the state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that... no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions" (Locke, section 6)


Transgression of this and violent conflicts, if they do occur, may be punished, often by the forcible imposition of a just peace on evil doers, and that peace in the state of nature is normal.


People mostly keep their promises and honour obligations. Though insecure and “full of continual dangers” (Locke, section 123), the state of nature is mostly peaceful, free and pleasant. As Locke describes the state of nature in the following quote:


“To properly understand political power and trace its origins, we must consider the state that all people are in naturally. That is a state of perfect freedom of acting and disposing of their own possessions and persons as they think fit within the bounds of the law of nature. People in this state do not have to ask permission to act or depend on the will of others to arrange matters on their behalf. The natural state is also one of equality in which all power and jurisdiction is reciprocal and no one has more than another. It is evident that all human beings—as creatures belonging to the same species and rank and born indiscriminately with all the same natural advantages and faculties—are equal amongst themselves. They have no relationship of subordination or subjection unless God (the lord and master of them all) had clearly set one person above another and conferred on him an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.” (2nd Tr., section 4)


The social contract
In the state of nature people are free and equal, why then do people willingly give up their rights and enter a civil society? Locke argues that while free and peaceful in the state of nature, it is “full of continual dangers”; people have no security in their rights and would live in fear. And so, people willingly come together to form a state, forgoing some of their rights to achieve the goal of security through granting the state a monopoly of violence, whereby the government, as an impartial judge, may use the collective force of the populace to administer and enforce the law. To quote Locke’s own words, “IF man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal, and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property.” (2nd Tr., section 123)


Nature of the sovereign/power
People can be trusted to govern themselves, able to make the right decisions given the right information. The purpose of a government is to protect individual liberties and rights, and people can revolt against an abusive government.

Locke argues that a government's legitimacy comes from the citizens' delegation to the government of part of their rights, that they are charged by the consent of the individual, "i.e. the consent of the majority, giving it either by themselves, or their representatives chosen by them." (Locke; section 140).

Locke also advocated governmental separation of powers and believed that people have a right for revolution, that people could instigate a revolution against the government when it acted against the interests of citizens, to replace the government with one that served the interests of citizens as a safeguard against tyranny.

Jean Jacques Rousseau – The Social Contract (1762)

Human nature
Rousseau argued that human beings, free from society, were well-disposed happy creatures, content in their state of nature. Only two principles guided them: the first, a natural self-love and desire for self-preservation; the second, a compassion for their fellow human beings.
The state of nature

After the state of nature
The creation of civil society and, in particular the development of private property imposed an immediate inequality on humanity that did not previously exist – between those who possessed property and those who did not. On the foundations of these new divisions, private property then provided the mechanism by which a natural self-love turned into destructive love of self, now driven by jealousy and pride, and capable of turning against other human beings. Civil society was the result of division and conflict working against a natural harmony (where originally, the earth belonged to no one).

The societies that existed then were not formed in the state of nature, deriving after we had left the state of nature, and property rights – with the resultant inequalities – had been established. Once property rights were in place, conflicts would ensue over the distribution of those rights. It was civil society and property that led to war, with the state as the agency through which war can be pursued.

The social contract

People are not inherently evil but could become so under evil governments. The virtues he saw in Geneva, and the vices in Venice – in particular, the sad decline of the city-state from its glorious past – could be traced not to human character, but to human institutions.

Rousseau built on this argument in the Social Contract, which he argued ‘Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.’ Rousseau saw the emergence of a sovereign power in society as a result of a social contract. A sovereign could not hold absolute authority, since it was impossible for a free man to enslave himself. For Rousseau, the social contract envisioned by Hobbes was a form of hoax by the rich against the poor.

The state and civil society were burdens on individuals, depriving them of a natural freedom. But they could be changed into positive extensions of our freedom, if political institutions and society were organized effectively. The social contract, instead of being a pact written in fear of our evil natures, could be a contract written in the hope of improving ourselves. The state of nature might have been free, but it meant people had no greater ideals than that of their animal appetites. More sophisticated desires could only appear outside the state of nature, in civil society. To achieve this, a new kind of social contract would be written. Where Hobbes saw law only as a restraint, and freedom existing only in the absence of law, Rousseau argued that laws could become an extension of our freedom, provided that those subject to the law also prescribed the law.

Nature of the sovereign/power

To achieve this, the whole people must become sovereign. A legitimate state is one that offers greater freedom than is obtainable in the raw state of nature. To secure that positive freedom, people must also be equal.

Rousseau did not equate this idea of popular sovereignty with democracy as such, fearing that a directly democratic government, requiring all citizens to participate, was uniquely prone to corruption and civil war. Instead, he envisioned sovereignty being invested in popular assemblies capable of delegating the tasks of government —via a new social contract, or a constitution—to an executive. The sovereign people would embody the “general will,” an expression of popular assent. Day-to-day government, however, would depend on specific decisions, requiring a “particular will.”

It was in this very distinction, Rousseau thought, that conflict between the “general will” and the “particular will” opened up, paving the way for the corruption of the sovereign people. It was this corruption that so marked the world of Rousseau’s time, in his view. Instead of acting as a collective, sovereign body, the people were consumed by the pursuit of private interests. To ensure the government was an authentic expression of the popular, general will, Rousseau believed that participation in its assemblies and procedures should be compulsory, removing—as far as possible—the temptations of the private will. But this belief in the necessity of combating private desires is exactly where Rousseau’s later, liberal critics have found the deepest fault. The “general will,” however desirable in theory, could easily be vested in deeply oppressive arrangements. Rousseau, in desiring to make the people sovereign could be presented as the forefather of totalitarianism. Rousseau’s provisions against factions and divisions among the people – which he, like Machiavelli, saw as undermining the state – could certainly turn into a tyranny of the majority, in which unpopular minorities suffer at the hands of those exercising the ‘general will.’

1B: Forms of Governance & Differing Socio-Political Contexts

As we discussed in Politics 1, there are varying types of governments in different countries and contexts, including failed states or countries in a state of anarchy. For surveillance and national security, it can take place in all forms of governments, although the distinction between authoritarian/ autocratic to democratic will in turn have an effect on how restrictive or strong these state apparatuses can be. It is also possible however, for an entirely democratic state (like the US) to have possibly restrictive measures akin to authoritarian states too.

In these cases, it could be a result of differing contexts (such as the rise of terrorist attacks in US soil) which sparked the greater push towards various measures that we shall investigate later on.


1C: Trends in individualism

With the world increasingly built upon mass individualism, through media, other consumer products and technology, the tension arises between the needs/goals of the state in contrast to individual wants and needs.


According to NPR, individualism has risen by 12% worldwide since 1960, and this is across the world. Within Singapore, consider the ‘sovereign’ who refused to wear her mask, or in a more recent development globally, the conflict in Russia-Ukraine at the moment, and how the Ukrainian President urged the Russian people to rise against Putin’s government and their decision to invade.


This leads to perennial debate to discuss in this topic – how much should governments control, and where do we draw the line?


Part 2: Theories of Surveillance
2A: Jeremy Bentham & the Panopticon

Invented in the 18th century by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham, this prison typology’s core principle was monitoring the maximum number of prisoners with the minimum number of guards. This involves an architecture which consisted of a circular array of prison cells with a watchtower placed at the centre of the circular building. The tower shines bright light so that the watchman is able to see everyone in the cells. The people in the cells, however, are not able to see the watchman, and therefore have to assume that they are always under observation.


As such, the prisoners would be self-disciplined, and few guards could ensure order over a large number of inmates. Bentham believed that society can be changed through constant surveillance with people regulating their behaviour out of fear. Bentham intended for this morphology to be used in schools, hospitals, and asylums, but he only described the Panopticon prison's architecture.


2B: Michel Foucault, & the Everyday Panopticon

The panopticon was appropriated as a metaphor in the second half of the twentieth century to trace the surveillance tendencies of disciplinarian societies. The French philosopher Michel Foucault famously explored the use of panopticon in modern society in his book, Discipline and Punish (1975).


Foucault argued that the panopticon, which was a symbol of social control, extended beyond the prison into everyday life for all citizens. He argues that social citizens always internalize authority, which is one source of power for prevailing norms and institutions. A motorist, for example, might stop at a red light even when there are no other vehicles or police present. Even though there are not necessarily any repercussions, the police are an internalized authority - people tend to obey laws because those rules become self-imposed. Power therefore becomes visible, yet unverifiable. [Contrast this with religion]

The panopticon symbolizes body subordination, which improves the utility of authority while eliminating the necessity for a prince. The disciplinary society is not necessarily one in which every street has a panopticon: it is one in which the state controls and runs such tools of compulsion throughout society in order to build the economy, promote education, and enhance public morality, rather than to save society.

Power is made more cost-effective and efficient. Schools, factories, hospitals, and prisons are similar not just in appearance, but also in the way they assess students, workers, patients, and inmates, define them as individuals, and try to conform them to the "norm."

Introduced in Michel Foucault's later work as a refined manner of comprehending his earlier concept of power/knowledge. Government refers to a complex set of procedures that systematically manage human behaviour in ever-larger domains of society and personal life. Such a government, according to Foucault, is not restricted to the body of state ministers or even to the state, but pervades the entire community and acts through dispersed power mechanisms. It includes both sovereign command capabilities, such as those found in classical political science and political sociology, as well as disciplinary training and self-control skills.

Sovereign power is forceful and repressive, with external constraints and inducements used to exclude people. Disciplinary power, on the other hand, is concerned with the self-formation of motives, wants, and character in individuals. Disciplined people have developed the habits, capabilities, and skills that enable them to act in socially suitable ways without the use of coercion from others. Disciplinary power arose in the modern era through institutions such as schools, hospitals, military barracks, and prisons, with the family as a central emphasis.

At the most intimate level, selves and bodies are managed by the disciplinary agency of the family. Foucault examines the rise of a wide range of "experts" based on scientific "disciplines" who are involved in individual discipline. Governmentality is achieved through all of these methods.


2C: Trends in Surveillance

In surveillance, there are two forms in terms of Passive and Active surveillance.

Passive surveillance relies on observations of data to flag out possible security threats, such as the use of internet filtering and sieving out internet searches, CCTVs, biometric data, etc. These systems in place such that data is collected passively and analysed, and irregularities/specific targets/suspects are captured and highlighted. Passive surveillance does not target specific individuals. In such systems, data are typically first collected and analysed where irregularities are sieved out. Normal/regular data can then be dismissed/deleted/erased/let go or retained. Even if data were to be retained in such cases, they are typically not categorised or organised together to gather information on specific individuals, rather just kept as a collected whole.


Active surveillance relies on specific actions by state agencies targeted on suspects or possible threats, such as wiretapping, physical searches of premises, intercepting or looking through their communications and more. In active surveillance, extra steps and measures are taken to go out of the way to collect more information on selected targets.


Refer to case studies of different countries’ surveillance operations.

Part 3: Why are surveillance and national security measures necessary?
At a glance:

3.1 Because surveillance can succeed in attaining national security
3.2 Because states need to sacrifice individual freedoms and privacy due to increasingly complex threats in our world today, both foreign and domestic.
3.2.1 Given the rapid development of technology and the issues in our global world today, conventional means to deter/prevent such threats are no longer effective.
3.2.2 Necessary because it can threaten the social fabrics of society

3.1 Because surveillance can succeed in attaining national security

Surveillance has helped to foil attacks. National security is vital for stability, and stability is important for any thriving society. Hence, collecting information through surveillance is needed since this helps protect the society by deterrence, prevention, and also increasing the chances and ease of apprehending terrorists or criminals.

·        In 2013, General Keith Alexander, the Director of the National Security Administration, told the US Congress that more than 50 potential terrorist attacks have been thwarted by two programs tracking more than a billion phone calls and vast swaths of Internet data every day. These targets include the New York Stock Exchange were prevented by caching telephone metadata and Internet information, including from millions of Americans since Sept. 11, 2001 (ABC News 2013).


·        Singapore’s uncovering of JI plot at Yishun MRT- after a tip off from an informant about a potential suspect, Mohammad Aslam Yar Ali Khan and his links to the terrorist group Al Qaeda in Sep 2001, the Internal Security Department of Singapore began their surveillance and monitoring of Aslam and his associates, which later led to the arrest of 15 suspects in Dec 2001 and the uncovering and thwarting of a JI bomb plot against various embassies located in Singapore which included an attack on Yishun MRT.


Through close monitoring by the Ministry of Home Affairs and security agencies, a 44-year-old Singaporean, named Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, was arrested and detained in Singapore in 2016 for terrorism-related activities. He posted numerous Facebook posts that supported the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and promoted their extremist ideals (Straits Times 2016).


·        In 2019, Malaysia's Special Branch's counterterrorism division detected and detained four suspects of an Islamic State 'wolf pack' which had planned a wave of terror attacks after local grievances over racial and religious division were exploited by ISIS. It was found that the cell first began in January 2019 through WhatsApp, and various firearms and six improvised explosive devices were seized. Continual detection of these 'wolf pack' terrorists (who operate small independent cells) succeeded primarily due to intelligence gathered from various authorities or even other countries (South China Morning Post 2019)


·        The hunt for Osama bin Laden offers a deeper perspective on how the surveillance and intelligence enabled his successful elimination. Through strategic efforts of HUMINT (human intelligence) and GEOINT (geospatial intelligence, from satellites and UAVs) collected from the sky, the US forces could determine if it was indeed Osama, and even used this information to determine the best method to launch their assault. In fact, intelligence gathered was processed and exploited to build a scale replica of Osama's compound for rehearsal and planning of the assault. Readily available information including, weather reports, maps of Abbottabad, and even information on the phases of the moon all played a role in both the strategic and tactical side of this case (Journal of Strategic Security 2013)


·        During the COVID-19 outbreak, China took drastic and radical steps to ensure the country fought the virus successfully, ranging from door-to-door health checks, forcibly isolating every resident in hospitals, quarantine shelters and even separating parents from young children with mild symptoms of COVID. Every caretaker of large apartment buildings became ad hoc security guards to monitor the temperature of residents, inspecting delivered food and medicine while drones hovered above streets yelling slogans for people to fight the virus, wear masks and stay indoors. China’s face-recognition software also worked overtime to colour code people based on contagion risk and assess their right to enter various public spaces and the government implemented a world’s first lockdown procedure which was then followed by other nations. In turn, China managed to control the pandemic effectively and rapidly while the rest of the world struggled (USA Today 2020).


3.2 Because states need to sacrifice individual freedoms and privacy due to increasingly complex threats in our world today, both foreign and domestic.

3.2.1 Given the rapid development of technology and the issues in our global world today, conventional means to deter/prevent such threats are no longer effective.

·        Given the plurality of voices in modern society, the democratisation of the media has led to a rapid influx of false information or ‘fake news’. Such false information can motivate others to commit acts of terror which threaten national security, hence surveillance is necessary to combat these threats. In 2016, an American man fired a military-style assault rifle inside a popular Washington pizzeria called Pizzagate, believing that he was saving children trapped in a child abuse scheme led by Hillary Clinton. This information was spread online, reporting children were held there due to a sex-slave ring. The conspiracy was later debunked to be false.


·        There are a myriad of data breaches and threats online due to cyberattacks and hackers. Surveillance addresses this and prevents a further loss of privacy. In 2018, personal information of 1.5 million SingHealth patients, including the Prime Minister, were stolen in a cyber-attack. The hackers had infiltrated the computers of SingHealth and illegally accessed non-medical personal data such as names, IC numbers, addresses, gender, race, and dates of birth.


North Korea employed as many as 6000 hackers, with most based in Russia, China and other countries, to target banks, financial institutions, defence secrets and gaming websites. North Korea also attempted to disrupt the development of the COVID-19 vaccine in South Korea, while other hacking attempts were to steal login information and other details related to the pharmaceutical companies.


Anonymous hackers re-emerged amid the US George Floyd protests, when various forms of cyberattacks are being carried out. The Minneapolis police department website was temporarily taken offline, suspected to be a hack. In 2014, they also went against the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), releasing personal details of alleged members online.


Cyberattacks on critical electricity infrastructure can affect other systems such as telecommunications, transport and sewage management. In the December 2015 Ukraine power grid attacks, hackers caused a blackout that affected 225,000 customers after installing malware that sabotaged the power grid and power distribution equipment.


·        According to Digital Shadows, research examining foreign threats to the 2020 US Presidential Election found parallels with the 2016 Election which had malicious actors linked to the Russian state. Through Russian state-owned traditional media, bots, ‘hack and leak’ operations, and cooperation between organised crime groups and Russian government agencies. It was found that Russia’s Internet Research Agency was primarily responsible for this interconnected ‘carousel of lies’ with fake news appealing to Americans with pop culture references, pictures and cartoons. Similarly, Iranian cybercriminals were focusing on online influence operations using social media, while Chinese cybercriminals were hard at work attempting to sway public opinion through Twitter and Youtube by spreading information reflecting favourable on China and highlighting controversies in the US (Security Magazine, 2020).


3.2.2 Necessary because it can threaten the social fabrics of society

With the increase of fake news, incorrect information and greater political unrest, there is an increasing threat to the fabrics of society which requires greater state surveillance to deter and prevent to ensure a stable society.


·        In 2020, a student from Singapore was hurt in Oxford Street from an attack. He was beaten up by a group of men who told him that they did not want the coronavirus in their country, due to the colour of his skin. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, the virus has been used by some as a way to further their distaste for those of a different race, deepening the social divide among nations.


·        In Thailand, Thai demonstrators have been protesting against the monarchy-approved government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and are demanding reforms of the powerful Thai monarchy. The protesters have also turned to social media platforms such as Twitter and Telegram channels to relay protest information and coordinate rallies, using hashtags such as #everybodyisaleader and infographics to educate protestors on hand signals and life-saving equipment to carry (refer to #milkteaalliance in Media notes). The government is relying on various state laws including its lèse-majesté law to deter the massive demonstrations.


·        In 2019, Hong Kong saw months of anti-government unrest. Protests began in June when millions came out to oppose a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China. The government activated sweeping colonial-era powers to ban face masks and implemented a citywide curfew in a bid to reduce clashes between police and protesters. On top of that, the National People's Congress ruled that the Hong Kong government has the power to expel local elected lawmakers if they were in favour of independence for Hong Kong, which is viewed as a threat to national security.


Part 4: Why are surveillance and national security measures unnecessary?
At a glance:

4.1 States should not infringe individual privacy as it is against the rights of the people.
4.2 Even when governmental surveillance exists, it may not be effective due to a multitude of issues.
4.3 Governmental surveillance is also ineffective due to profiling systems being discriminatory in nature.
4.4 Governments’ apparatuses and intentions with National Security and Privacy may not always be for the interest and benefit of the people.

4.1 States should not infringe individual privacy as it is against the rights of the people.

Privacy ensures the individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression, protecting them from race/religious/political/sexual persecution and the right to freedom and choice to share or hide personal information from others. The right to privacy ensures that we are free from state surveillance, free to have our own unique thoughts and views, free from being just a number, free from profiling and cataloguing based on various character traits, free to protest, free to vote, free to think, free be left alone and so on so forth. Privacy as some view is what keep us separate from zoo animals who are continuously being watched and filmed without their will and consent. Privacy is very basic human instinct and is recognised as a fundamental human right, it gives the confidence of being in-possession of our own personal information, thoughts, views and opinions without being judged.


We should not simply achieve national security at the expense of privacy due to the concern of citizen exploitation by the state. Without citizens’ explicit consent to having their information taken or recorded, authorities should not have the ability to access, collect or store this data. This brings about the concern of abuse by legal authorities, who are given the power to track people without their knowledge.


In some situations, authorities may not even obtain consent from citizens and mandate participation in surveillance programmes, which means that ultimately, privacy will be compromised. This way, the misuse of power and technology suggests that people are obligated to give up their privacy and forsake their security. Various political writers believe that Western democracies exaggerate the threat of terrorism to justify mass surveillance (e.g. Greenwald 2014) and also exaggerate their role in preventing terrorist activity (e.g. Bergen et al., 2014). This means that surveillance is merely conducted using the guise of terrorism.


·        There are a number of laws protecting privacy across the world.


In Europe, a common protection system implemented which was followed by EU Data Protection Directives in the 1990s (directive 95/46/EC). The privacy concerns increased with the growing governments and private business interest in gathering and storing personal information. Thus, to address these concerns in Europe the EU Data Protection directives of 1990 is replaced by EU-GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation) in 2016.

In United States the fourth amendment considered to be basis of most privacy laws, which states that, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".

Singapore’s PDPA (Personal Data Protection Act) data protection law provides a baseline standard of protection for personal data in Singapore. It complements sector-specific legislative and regulatory frameworks such as the Banking Act and Insurance Act. It comprises various requirements governing the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data in Singapore.

·        Together with the use of CCTV, body cameras, and drone technology, government‐​backed facial recognition technology is currently being used in London streets to allow law enforcement to identify law abiding citizens (or non-law-abiding citizens) by tracking their lawful movements. While the technology has been claimed to be able to reduce serious crime by instantly detecting any matches with a database of the faces of known criminal suspects, what has sparked debate is the potential violation of privacy that such technology would cause. By mass-scanning all faces in range, the police can capture personal biometric data without the consent of passers-by, and arrested suspects would not even know that the flawed technology was put in use. Without any limits or regulations to how authorities can use the technology, this increases the opportunity for false arrests due to faulty technology and allows for what many have called the undemocratic expansion of the surveillance state. (Forbes 2020; Cato Institute, 2017)


For all the potential to fight crime, however, the trial quickly stumbled into the thorny issues that surround the technology. A bearded man in a blue baseball cap approached the surveyed area, with his grey jumper pulled up to cover his face. He had just been informed by a bystander that the police were testing facial recognition in the area and did not want to participate. The police demanded that he comply and scanned his face with a facial recognition tool on a mobile phone. Although his face did not match that of any known criminals, The entire incident was caught on camera by journalists. London is the most obvious test bed in the UK for visual surveillance technologies. An estimated 420,000 CCTV cameras operate in and around the city. Many were put in place in the early 1990s in response to IRA bombings in the city, followed by waves of installations after the September 11 and London Underground terrorist attacks, and the 2012 Olympics.


·        The use of the facial recognition technology as well as installation of CCTV cameras in several Delhi government schools raises grave concerns, given the absence of data protection and privacy laws in India, as well as regulations for the use of this technology. As children are a vulnerable demographic, they require far greater protection especially when the collection and processing of data is involved. What is a striking concern is that in these schools, little to no parental consent was sought before the biometric data was collected. Moreover, there were no standards or regulations set for data security, retention, proportionality and sharing.


·        About 48% of American adults as of 2016, which makes up about 117 million people, have had their photo enrolled in a facial recognition network used by law enforcement. However, this happens without the consent, let alone awareness, of participants, which is worsened by the lack of legislative oversight. As American law enforcement face recognition systems enable the search for a state’s driver’s license and ID photo databases, such information can be used for any criminal tracking purposes without their knowledge.


4.2 Even when governmental surveillance exists, it may not be effective due to a multitude of issues.

While surveillance measures are in place, it does not necessarily mean that they are successful or helpful due to a multitude of issues that has arisen due to the surveillance apparatus.


·        The Queensland Police Service (QPS) released an evaluation report after the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland assessing the rollout of facial recognition technology for security purposes of the event. The ABC has reported it showed that none of the 16 high-priority targets requested as part of the security operation could be identified. This was due to the rush in the rollout which saw a delay in the passing of legislation by the Commonwealth and state for the event that caused a reduction in the database from an anticipated 46 million images to approximately 8 million. The insufficient data to operate effectively during the event. Additionally, when the technology was opened to basic policing halfway through the Games, it fell short of expectations and produced only five identities out of the 268 requested. (ABC news, 2019)


·        It appeared that the Boston Marathon Bombings happened even with the massive spying, collection of phone call and email data being conducted by National Security Agency (NSA) at the same time. The usefulness of these surveillance measures, including CCTVs, proved ineffectual in preventing the terrorist attacks from materialising, since they were only investigated after the incident occurred, when people have suffered from injuries and lives have been lost. Moreover, during investigations, relevant information about the bombers came not from electronic surveillance but rather from another government. A few years before the bombing, the Russian government had warned the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the threat of the older brother. However, after investigations by the FBI, where there was nothing found to link the brothers to terrorism, they closed the investigation in June 2011. Yet in the same year, the Russians sent the same warning again.


·        Hundreds of thousands of Americans have had their phone records collected for years, leading to concerns over whether such data has actually improved national security. Following classified and public hearings, Senator Leahy and other members of Congress concluded that there was no evidence that the phone records collection has ever proved important in combatting terrorism. A subsequent review by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board reached the same conclusion. A 2009 inspector general report said that the dragnet had cost taxpayers $146 million in supplemental counterterrorism funds to buy new hardware and contract support and to make payments to the phone companies for their collaboration.


·        David Coleman Headley, who was one of the plotters of the Mumbai, India attacks in 2008 had been a Drug Enforcement Administration informant, was deployed to Pakistan for work despite the multiple repeated warnings that the American authorities received from his family members, friends and acquaintances that he showed support to Pakistani extremists and radical Islamic groups. Despite receiving warnings from his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends about his training with Lashkar-e-Taiba (an Islamist militant jihadist organization in Pakistan) and other extremists, the officials did not effectively follow up on the allegations as they believed that his work was instead linked to both American law enforcement and Pakistan’s Intelligence Services — all while he was training with the Pakistani militants.


·        A report on the value of CCTV commissioned by Dyfed-Powys Police in Wales argued that cameras were valuable in the detection of crime, citing the opinions of police investigators and local prosecutors. However, the report also recommended that live monitoring of CCTV cease because it was ineffective at preventing crime or improving the initial response to incidents (Instrom Security Consultants 2014). Several municipalities in Britain have decreased their investment in CCTV in response to recent budget cuts (Merrick and Duggan 2013).


·        In Britain, where cameras have been extensively deployed in public places, sociologists studying the issue have found that they have not reduced crime. "Once the crime and offence figures were adjusted to take account of the general downward trend in crimes and offences," criminologists found in one study, "reductions were noted in certain categories but there was no evidence to suggest that the cameras had reduced crime overall in the city centre." A 2005 study for the British Home Office also found that cameras did not cut crime or the fear of crime (as had a 2002 study, also for the British government).


·        An investigation by Amnesty’s Security Lab had discovered a significant weakness in the configuration of Qatar’s EHTERAZ contact-tracing app in May 2020, which has been developed by the Ministry of Interior using GPS and Bluetooth technology to track COVID-19 cases. Although this has since been fixed, the vulnerability would have enabled cyber attackers to obtain highly sensitive personal information, such as the name, national ID, health status and location data of more than one million users.


·        Guthrie (2001) infers that most of the criminals understand that the CCTVs function with electric power and that it takes them time to readjust after the lights go off. Consequently, an organized group of people with criminal intentions can easily undertake criminal activities and go unnoticed if they tamper with the power line first. The transfer of the video signals from the high-definition cameras to the monitor screens occurs through signals sent through straight transmissions. Due to advances in technology, the criminals can easily hack into the signals and tamper with them to facilitate their criminal activities (Duguid, 2006 p. 69).


·        Slovenia and the UK are all using biometrics to monitor legitimate protesters despite not having a legal justification for doing so. Moreover, Serbia, where the government started to roll out a massive biometric surveillance project throughout its capital city, Belgrade, but faced massive backlash.


4.3 Governmental surveillance is also ineffective due to profiling systems being discriminatory in nature.

Mass surveillance can be discriminatory in nature, especially since they are created with input of human biases, which can disproportionately affect certain social groups. The risk of these security measures such as biometric technologies being used as weapons or tools to further undermine human rights, especially for marginalised or minority groups, is an increasing concern.

How can one say that such technologies can entirely lead to greater national security when these technologies disfavour certain social groups and have the potential to make people feel insecure or fearful even in their own country? By sacrificing our personal data and privacy without the guarantee of national security for all, we may even be contributing to the unjustified persecution of people by unknowingly helping in processes that perpetuate and reinforcing inequality in society through harmful stereotypes in society.

·        The US National Security Agency's (NSA) Prism surveillance programme targeted prominent Muslim US citizens – including lawyers, civil rights leaders, and academics – according to a document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to the report, these US citizens were targeted for domestic surveillance despite posing no threat to the US, suggesting the surveillance may have been carried out illegally. The report also said the NSA tracked as much of their personal email correspondence as possible with no motivation other than their positions in the community and their religious backgrounds. (Computer Weekly, 2014)


·        As a part of research and development projects for facial recognition solutions, companies in China such as Huawei, SenseTime and Megvii created the widely criticised ethnic classification tool which can differentiate between people of the Han majority and the Muslim minority groups. Due to this, China has been accused of implementing ethnicity-detecting software in public surveillance systems to aggressively oppress millions of Uighurs and other Muslims, whereby members of the Muslim ethnic groups are identified by their facial features, labelled and later detained against their will in ‘re-education camps’ for political and cultural indoctrination. However, AI researchers have asserted that the system is expected to produce inaccuracies in its results as identification can be affected by lighting, image quality and other factors, meaning that such technology can only contribute further to China’s brutal regime of ethnic oppression.


·        In the 2018 “Gender Shades'' project, researchers evaluated the accuracy of three AI powered gender classification algorithms including those developed by IBM, Microsoft and Amazon. Amazon’s face-ID system, ‘Rekognition’, showed racial bias against darker-skinned women, where there was a recorded 31% error in gender classification. The system also once identified Oprah Winfrey as male, in just one notable example of a way in which the software can fail. It has also wrongly matched 28 members of Congress to a mugshot database.


·        A Brown University senior and Muslim activist, named Amara K. Majeed, was wrongly flagged as a suspect in the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan authorities have acknowledged the error, and officials later accused a small team of investigators who were responsible for using the facial recognition software that led to the false accusation. The student received multiple death threats online following the misidentification.


·        Black people are overrepresented in mugshot data in the United States, which face recognition could falsely interpret to make predictions. The Black presence in such systems creates chances for disproportionate arrests of Black people, who are then subject to future surveillance. This promotes the unjust persecution of Black people, which is already worsened by the existing racism of the policing system in America. Additionally, face recognition can potentially target other marginalized populations, such as undocumented immigrants by ICE, or Muslim citizens by the New York Police Department. For example, the NYPD maintains a database of 42,000 “gang affiliates”, which is 99% Black and Latinx, without any requirements to prove suspected gang affiliation.


4.4 Governments’ apparatuses and intentions with National Security and Privacy may not always be for the interest and benefit of the people.


Governments’ apparatus under the wrong hands means that it will just be used as a means to infringe and compromise individual privacy instead. In many of such instances, instead, more problems are created.


·        The top-secret documents revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed that it is largely up to the discretion of National Security Agency (NSA) analysts, without warrants, to decide when to examine or destroy particular U.S. communications that are collected, including calls made or content of messages. This means that on top of indiscriminate data collection, NSA analysts follow lax rules and are permitted to access these records which are at their disposal (Business Insider, 2013).


Edward Snowden exposed documents from the NSA in 2013, revealed its international intelligence partners’ secret mass surveillance programs and capabilities which were sometimes against the rights of the people. It soon incited discourse on privacy and digital security, as well as a global debate on it.


His leak reviewed more about the Prism Program, which provides the most detailed search capability on any individual through the access on social media platform like Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These social media platforms provided the real-time search API’s to NSA. These API’s then combined into a single search interface, which can pull all the information about any specific person on various search criteria from the servers of the above companies. This includes data from all social-media posts, connection details, friends and family details, emails, texts messages, photographs, internet searches in fact anything or everything stored on their platforms about an individual.


He was not the first example of whistle-blowers, which included the likes of Thomas Drake (2003), William Binney and others.


·        China’s social credit system is a set of databases that monitor the trustworthiness of civilians and firms. Individuals with a good rating will be able to obtain rewards, while those with a bad rating may be punished. Facial-recognition technology is also employed for tasks such as catching criminals in huge crowds to detecting and shaming people who jaywalk, as well as determine whether someone is deserving of an extra piece of toilet paper in a public restroom.


·        The Panama Papers were a leak of financial files from the database of Mossack Fonseca, a large law firm. The documents revealed multiple methods in which the rich can manipulate secretive offshore tax regimes, such as how the father of the British Prime Minister David Cameron avoided having to pay tax by hiring a small army of Bahamas residents to sign its paperwork. The leak of the Panama Papers revealed that many governmental organisations and personnel were involved in illegal acts which benefited only themselves.


·        The passing of the draconian Philippines' Anti-Terrorism Act in 2020 has made it possible for suspects to be jailed without charge. It criminalises overly broad offenses such as "engaging in acts intended to endanger a person's life," with intent to "damage public property" or "interfere with critical infrastructure". Under the law, a terrorism suspect could be detained for 14 days without charge, a period that can be extended to 24 days. Human rights attorneys claim that this violates a constitutional provision that a person must be charged within three days of detention. Since it is ultimately up to the government to define what actions are considered a serious risk to public safety, any act or speech deemed as a form of dissent towards the government is almost automatically perceived as terrorism and warrants legal punishment (NPR, 2020).


The law has been widely criticised for granting President Rodrigo Duterte and his security forces more power to arrest journalists and social media users, who are critical of the government’s COVID-19 response, without evidence of being involved in terrorist activities. Human rights groups view this as a threat threatening media freedom and the rights to free expression and access to information.


·        In late July 2020, in Turkey, the parliament passed a controversial bill giving the government greater control over social media, a move criticised by human rights advocates to increase online censorship. This increased control may limit independent information, as the law can force social media platforms to remove and block content without any restrictions.


·        In north-western Xinjiang, China has endorsed an Islamophobic campaign against Uighur Muslims, one million of whom are being held in internment camps. Though defended by China as a necessary security measure to eliminate extremists and reduce radicalisation, the campaign involved a great deal of brutality, with Muslim detainees forced to memorise Chinese Communist Party propaganda and renounce Islam against their will.


Part 5: Evaluation - How do we then balance National Security with the rights of individuals?

At a glance:

5.1 In certain situations and contexts, national security has to be the focus of the government in its role in governing the state, and individual freedoms and privacy do temporarily need to be sacrificed. [Contextual Complexities]
5.2 National Security and Privacy rights or freedoms need not always lead to trade-offs, as long as there is proper government oversight to avoid any potential issues. [False dichotomy]
5.3 A balance of individuals and governments working hand in hand can benefit the country most – the fine line between privacy and national security is dynamic, which means constant reassessment to redefine the ‘social contract’ for the better of the country. [False dichotomy]

5.1 In certain situations and contexts, national security has to be the focus of the government in its role in governing the state, and individual freedoms and privacy do temporarily need to be sacrificed. [Contextual Complexities]


In instances of weaker governments, failed states, crises, and states of emergencies, it is perhaps arguable that individual freedoms and privacy be temporarily sacrificed for the country to move forward, especially if it is within a short period of time.


·        The crisis of our generation – COVID-19, has led to governments imposing lockdowns and country-wide restrictions of movement and other personal freedoms. This can range from disturbing images from Wuhan China where officials detained citizens walking along the street or even dragging them from their homes to Australia announcing legislation which allows people to be detained or isolated when they pose a threat to public safety. In Singapore, it is an offence to breach any of the COVID-19 regulations, with people being charged for breaking their Stay Home Notices, or for not wearing their mask in public. While imposing strict lockdowns during the pandemic may curtail the individual liberties of citizens, these measures are seen as necessary in flattening the curve of cases for the sake of protecting public health and preventing the collapse of healthcare infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics. who are required to stay home for prolonged periods of time and are only allowed to go out for specific reasons to curb the spread of the virus. During this crisis, for the benefit of the general population, it is indeed necessary for such individual freedoms and privacy to be sacrificed.


Various countries have also implemented different applications which can track individuals and their potential contacts in case they contracted the virus even though this has caused fears of loss of privacy. Many countries have developed apps for tracking and contact tracing, with so many prototypes in development and implemented, that MIT launched a Contact Tracing App Database. This includes Singapore as a pioneer in the field with TraceTogther, and Australia which has adapted Singapore’s TraceTogther into its own COVIDsafe.


·        In the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict in 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod. Conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants intensified came after weeks of rising tensions that were stoked by violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a site in Jerusalem that is holy to both Muslims and Jews. Palestinian militant groups continued to fire rocket barrages into Israel. Loud booms and air-raid sirens were heard across targeted cities, which included Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Modiin, and Beersheba. This includes curfews and security measures starting from 1700 to 0800 the next day, as well as prohibited entries into the town of Lod which will last until stability in this conflict is ensured.


·        In various instances of natural disasters, it is common for governments to impose a state of emergency with restrictions on personal freedoms and movements to ensure that government agencies can take necessary action to cope with the disaster. In early 2021, with Texas’s winter freeze which has thrown Texas into chaos, a state-wide proclamation of disaster and emergency took place. Power outages, caused by a combination of high demand, power plants crippled by the weather and a grid that is cut off from the rest of the country, have left millions of people shivering in the dark as a true humanitarian crisis.

Evaluation: However, in some instances, the ‘crisis’ may be extended due to various political reasons, which may ultimately not be beneficial from the people’s perspective.


·        In Taiwan, following the fall of Mainland China to the Communists, the Kuomintang government in Taiwan imposed a provision of Martial Law from 1948 to 1991. This effectively nullified the constitution and established martial law in Taiwan, curtailing civil and political freedoms under the premise of the Chinese Civil War, and that there were plans to recapture the mainland from the Communists. Martial law imposed strict political censorship, denying the right of assembly and free speech, with newspapers with propaganda articles, and anyone voicing criticism of the government could be arrested.


It is estimated that around 140,000 Taiwanese were arrested, tortured, imprisoned, or executed during this period, and the martial law was only finally lifted following the liberalisation and democratisation of Taiwan when it became clear that reclaiming mainland China was out of the realm of possibility, and following the death of Chiang Kai-Shek.


·        In the recent coup in Myanmar, martial law was declared in parts of Myanmar to prevent rallies and cut protests from the people, which banned gatherings, speaking in public or any form of protests, enabling law enforcement to stop any protesters or activists against the military junta.


Unfortunately, in many instances where personal freedoms are curtailed, it is done in favour of more authoritarian regimes to consolidate their grapple over the country, as evident in the likes of Egypt, Syria and many more.



5.2 National Security and Privacy rights or freedoms need not always lead to trade-offs, as long as there is proper government oversight to avoid any potential issues. [False dichotomy]


To argue that there is a trade off between privacy and security is a false dichotomy, often based on fallacious arguments:


Fallacy 1:

Good people vs Bad People / Nothing to hide, Nothing to Fear  - the argument that privacy is only of a concern for bad people who are doing bad things, which completely ignores the importance of privacy or the fact that it is a basic human right.

Fallacy 2:

The Cost of Security is Privacy – the argument that if the next 9/11 can be avoided by giving up privacy, citizens are up for it. The cost of security, however, does not have to paid by giving up a fundamental human right.


While it is true that there are increasing national security concerns, it is also true that awareness of privacy is rising as well. There should not be a focus on either National Security or Privacy when it is possible for us to not give a complete blind eye by governments on the powers vested in them or its security agencies in the name of national security. There should be a proper system of check and balances needed to be developed supported by the law in order to avoid the misuse these powers.


·        Though the FISA courts in USA and the Investigatory Power Courts in the UK for example, are enacted to justify surveillance needs through probable cause, Snowden’s leaks revealed that many security agencies most of the time, if not all the time, completely bypassed the processes that were in place, or that these courts pass orders in favour of the security agencies without due scrutiny.


·        Following 9/11, internet and telecom companies have developed search portals made available to government agencies to search any communication details happening over their network in real time. While this level of information access is key in intercepting key suspects before attacks are carried out, a proper government oversight is needed to address privacy and misuse concerns.


·        With video surveillance tools and technology now increasingly used with biometric technologies like facial recognition to profile, catalogue and identify an individual, proper laws and regulations need to be in place, particularly since big-data analytics are now combining it together with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Such a misuse may have devastating impact, like so in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which reveals how big data can be used to influence whole election processes. Further research is required to develop or refine the existing big-data algorithms to help intelligence agencies with the appropriate oversights to avoid unnecessary privacy invasion of citizens supported by the laws to curb the misuse of these technologies [Connected to S&T and ethical boundaries]


5.3 A balance of individuals and governments working hand in hand can benefit the country most – the fine line between privacy and national security is dynamic, which means constant reassessment to redefine the ‘social contract’ for the better of the country. [False Dichotomy]


Some will argue that by sacrificing part of privacy, and liberty to a certain extent, greater security can be achieved. In that sense, greater liberty can also be achieved. Surveillance infringes on privacy, and liberty to a certain extent. However, is there truly liberty without national security? Sacrificing part of privacy to attain greater security and liberty is a choice that governments can make in consideration of their priorities/goals and the social contract between them and the people.


The question is then on how much privacy should be sacrificed? And is sacrificing part or full of any right to achieve more of another justified?


As Obama once said in defence of the two secret National Security Agency (NSA) spying programs that were exposed by whistle-blower and leaker Edward Snowden, "You can’t have 100% security, and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience.”

However, any sacrifice of liberty is still a compromise of individual security, which is not worthwhile. Giving up any form of liberty is to surrender the freedom of being able to speak or act, or to forgo our individual rights. The overemphasis on having national or state security has led us to believe that the nation’s interests override or coincide with ensuring our personal liberty.

In the end, national Security which truly benefits the people should be involving striking a balance between individuals and governments working hand in hand to determine what is best for the people and nation (deontology) - it is not always a Faustian bargain, nor is it a binary or strict dichotomy.

·        In 2011, the UK moved to a system where parliament must be involved in any decision to go to war, and in 2013, the House of Commons debated a government motion for the UK to join US-led strikes in Syria. This motion was defeated, with various members of the house taking non-partisan sides and listening to the voices on the ground. As such the government did not go to war.


In the U.K., a report produced by the National Policing Improvement Agency discusses research on community policing, which encourages the public to cooperate with the police and be socially responsible, leading to crime reduction in a cost-effective manner. According to Myhill and Quinton (2011), public trust in the police rests less on the perception of the police effectively fighting crime, than on the belief that the police acts fairly when dealing with the public. Trust contributes to overall effectiveness in the long term.


·        In Singapore, the TraceTogether app controversy was ignited when the government initially assured the people that the app would not be used for anything else more than just for Contact Tracing. Later on, after many had downloaded the app, the app was used by the Singapore Police Force, leading citizens to go up in arms with the argument that the government had lied to them. While the app is used by 78% of the Singapore population (Straits Times, 2021), the government has reassured the public that there are stringent measures allowing only authorised officers to access the data and will only be used in criminal investigations. While this highlights the possibility of an abuse of data privacy, undoubtedly there is no free rein in using this data and it is and will be a fine balance between what is good for Singapore and its citizens.


There are also various surveillance programmes in Singapore that are in conjunction with the help of the people. The Riders-On-Watch (ROW) scheme was launched in 2019 as a part of the Public Transport Security Command’s Community Engagement Programme (CEP). ROW volunteers can help keep watch for suspicious persons or activities during their commute on public transport systems and provide valuable information to the Police. Additionally, volunteers may receive the latest crime and security issues affecting the public transport system via SMS and relay this information to their friends and family. creating a more informed community. Similarly, The Citizens On Patrol (COP) scheme was started in 1999, in Singapore. It was intended to enable patrols to be conducted by civilians to alert the police when they notice suspicious activity or people and engage the community on crime prevention measures. Members are attached to one of the Neighbourhood Police Centres and would serve a minimum of 2 hours of patrol per month.


·        In Switzerland, the country practises direct democracy in parallel with representative democracy, which means that Swiss National Referendums take place with regards to all matters even with national security.


In 2020, there were two major referendums with national security. The first was a referendum on immigration initiative proposing the end of free movement with EU which was rejected with approximately 62% voted to keep free movement with EU while 38% against. This proposal was to allow Switzerland to control its borders and allow only select immigrants in order to ensure national security. Those who opposed and wanted to keep free movement argued on the basis of economic recession during uncertain times and that hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens would be deprived of freedom to live and work across Europe.


The second referendum was with regards to the Fighter Jet Purchase referendum which passed with approximately 50.1% voted yes, 48.9% voted against the purchase of new fighter jets. It was proposed to purchase new fighter jets to replace Swiss’s military’s existing F5 and F/A-18 fleets with Lockheed Martin’s F35, Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. (Existing F5s were more than 40 years old and only flew in good weather while the useful life of the F-18 ends in 2030) While the opposition argued that the purchase was wasteful and argued that lower-cost light fighters could be used instead (6 billion CHF was set aside by the Federal Council and Parliament for the purchase), a larger (though barely) majority voted to purchase the fighter jets for the benefit of national security.


In both instances the decisions regarding national security therefore run through the people before they are made, reflecting the people’s voices.



Video links for National Security

1) Social Contract Theory (simplified):

2) Hobbes and Contractarianism:

3) Rousseau and the Social Contract:

4) Hobbes and Locke – Social Contract:

5) What is Martial Law (linked to Turkey):





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