Mass surveillance raises not only questions about privacy, Big Brotherism in general and the surveillance state as such. It is also a matter of democracy.
Proponents of mass surveillance often argue that there is a collective interest that eclipse private individuals right to privacy (which, by the way, is a fundamental human right).
They argue that mass surveillance is necessary to guarantee all citizens security. They say that we must balance the need for security against our fundamental rights. (But the very reason some rights are considered to be fundamental is that they should never be limited or violated, no matter what.) And the nomenklatura suggests that all that they do is done for your benefit and security.
But as we have learned, care for private citizens are not the real concern for NSA, GCHQ & Co. The purpose of mass surveillance is to protect the state — politicians, bureaucrats, special interests and the system. Everything else is just window dressing.
One should recognize that society is not our political leaders and their functionaries. Society is a large number of private individuals, who are unique and free citizens. Not a faceless mass of subordinates.
Mass surveillance is an indication that the ruling classes considers themselves — not the people — to be the core of democracy. That is a perversion of the word democracy. True public interest must focus on respecting all citizens and their fundamental rights.
In a democratic society, you only apply surveillance against people who are suspected for serious crime — not the general public. In a decent society, you trust people until there is substantial reason to do otherwise.
Simply, you cannot defend a free and open democratic society by violating the people’s fundamental civil and human rights.