How far should a state have the right to monitor the actions of people within its borders?

YES: The state should have extensive rights to monitor the actions of people within its borders for a range of legitimate reasons that enhance our well-being.

  1. Contemporary political developments in many countries now feature unprecedented security challenges, such as transnational terrorism and crime, which justify the state’s duty to extensively monitor the actions of people suspected of being or who fit the profile of such subversive elements.

  2. The state has a strong moral and ethical right to use all necessary means to monitor people whose welfare may be compromised when they are within the borders as a result of factors beyond their control, such as victims of human trafficking, from which positive state intervention can then take place.

  3. Many legal procedures exist for the state to monitor the actions of its own citizens who have violated laws, in the interest of securing public well-being, such as issuing electronic tags to youth offenders on probation or continued police surveillance on sex offenders who have already completed their sentences but are assessed as likely to reoffend.

  4. The state has extensive rights to monitor the writings and publications of people who may disseminate views, such as religiously or racially provocative ones, that are likely to be subversive or harmful to society, forming the basis for legal action to be taken against them.

NO: The state’s rights to monitor the actions of people within its borders should be clearly delineated and limited given the potential for abuse and illegitimate practices that undermine our well-being.

  1. The need to monitor people who are security threats is undeniable but the state must moderate its approach as government officials may be too zealous in their approach and make mistaken arrests of poorly profiled and ultimately innocent suspects.

  2. The state should be more proactive in monitoring and sharing information of people whose welfare is under threat with appropriate civic organizations, which may have additional resources and expertise to positively intervene in these developments.

  3. The state needs to balance its pursuit of justice and the monitoring of law-breakers with protecting their rights to privacy, as excessive monitoring will presume theirguilt before the actual occurrence of any crime, undermining the state’s efforts to build a truly just and progressive society.

  4. The right to monitor what people write and publish can be taken too far by authoritarian or paranoid governments, leading to the unjust arrest of dissidents with legitimate concerns, thereby greatly reducing the state’s case for extensive monitoring of people and their actions.