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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Examine the ethical issues of government surveillance programs in the context of privacy and individual freedoms. (150 Words)

    11 May, 2023 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions


    • Start your answer with explaining Government Surveillance Programs
    • Explain the ethical issues in surveillance programs and privacy.
    • Conclude with suggestions to strike a balance between the two.


    Government surveillance programs have become increasingly controversial in recent years, as concerns over privacy and individual freedoms have intensified. These programs often involve the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data, including emails, phone calls, and internet activity, in an effort to identify potential threats to national security.


    Some of the ethical issues involved here are:

    • Privacy Invasion: Government surveillance often involves the collection, monitoring, and analysis of personal data. This intrusion into individuals' private lives raises concerns about the right to privacy.
    • Lack of Transparency and Accountability: Such programs often lack transparency, making it difficult for citizens to understand the extent and purpose of surveillance activities. There’s an issue of data breach also.
    • Chilling Effect on Free Speech: Widespread surveillance has the potential to create a chilling effect on free speech and dissent. When individuals know their actions are being monitored, they may self-censor their opinions and activities.
    • Disproportionate Targeting and Discrimination: There are concerns that government surveillance programs may disproportionately target certain groups based on factors such as race, religion, or political beliefs.
    • Surveillance State and Power Imbalance: Extensive government surveillance can lead to the creation of a surveillance state, where individuals are constantly monitored, and their actions controlled.


    The ethical issues of government surveillance programs in the context of privacy and individual freedoms are complex and multifaceted. While such programs may be necessary for national security reasons, they must be scrutinized to ensure they do not infringe upon the fundamental rights of individuals. Effective regulation and safeguards must be in place to prevent any privacy abuses by the government or private entities.

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