What are three pros and cons about whether it is appropriate for the government to withhold information from its citizens?

Expert Answers
samson98 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The degree to which governments should share information with their citizens is a hotly debated topic. While the specific arguments for and against sharing information with citizens will vary based on individual cases, here are some general pros and cons you could use to answer this question.

Pros

  1. Withholding information from citizens can help maintain order during a crisis. If the government does not reveal how serious a crisis is, people will be more likely to behave normally.
  2. Withholding information from citizens can protect national security. The less the government tells its people, the less information potential terrorists can use against that country.
  3. Withholding information from citizens protects government employees. Concealing information from citizens can protect employees (for example, police officers) from being targeted by anti-government organizations.

Cons

  1. Withholding information from citizens prevents people from acting in their own self-interest. If a crisis happens and the government keeps it a secret, the people affected by that crisis will not be able to protect themselves.
  2. Withholding information from citizens encourages corruption. If government employees know that the general public will not be able to hold them accountable for their actions, they will be more likely to behave in an unethical manner.
  3. Withholding information from citizens causes them to distrust the government. If a government regularly hides information from its citizens, they will be less likely to believe what the government does tell them.