When governments distrust their own people
Let us look at the Soviet Union and how you had a more primitive version of what many people today call the surveillance society. The communist government of the Soviet Union felt threatened, often by its own people, and they did whatever they could, given the technology, to always survey the people and to set up a very elaborate, complex system for making sure that they knew whenever someone did something that could be a threat to the state.
This is easy to understand when you look at how the Bolshevik revolution happened. It happened through violence, through manipulation, through lying, through cheating. People who are in this state of consciousness, they know they have risen to power by doing to others these things. It enabled them to get to power, but the price they pay is that they will forever, or at least indefinitely, live with the fear that others will do to them as they have done to others. In other words, that others will use the same means to overthrow them that they used to overthrow the previous power elite. This becomes the motivation for why they had this surveillance society.
If we now go forward to the more modern times after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and look at one of the major developments that have taken place, it is, naturally, the Internet and digital technology. If the Soviet leaders would have had access to this kind of technology, they obviously could have created an even tighter mesh of surveillance around their citizens. They did not have it and now it was developed, especially during the 1990’s.
Governments in the West were aware of this. They were starting to make some use of it, but they knew their people would be very critical about increased surveillance. They faced a certain dilemma where you cannot easily claim that you are a free democratic nation and at the same time institute tighter and tighter surveillance of your own citizens. The manipulators, who always seek to take over societies, loved this kind of technology.
Naturally, the Internet and digital technology also increased the amount of information available to people. You will see that one of the reasons the Soviet leaders could not use computer technology is that they were actually afraid to release computers to their scientists. They faced the dilemma that they knew that if they gave their scientists computers, they could not control what kind of information they could access and how they could communicate with people in the West. It is, of course, the same in western governments that they cannot fully control the Internet and the amount of information that people have access to.