Volume 7, April 2014
Rusbridger’s “The Snowden Leaks and the Public” and Mill’s Utilitarianism
An Analysis of the Utilitarian Concern of “Going Dark”
In the wake of the controversial Snowden leaks, Alan Rusbridger observes that the National Security Administration [NSA] and Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ] maintain that their mass spying is justified because it prevents the world from “going dark.” This paper will explore the meaning and philosophical significance of “going dark” and argue that the NSA and GCHQ’s claim appeals—wittingly or unwittingly—to J.S. Mill’s ethical principle of utility. This paper will therefore critique this argument within Mill’s utilitarian framework to demonstrate that its appeal to utility is illegitimate. Finally, this paper will argue that utility dictates that this mass surveillance is unjustifiable and should be terminated.