For and Against: Not So Appropriate

HTML tutorial

Let’s face it–nobody is safe on the Internet these days. Hackers have gotten more ingenious over the years, and it doesn’t look like that trend will stop. To make things worse, our own government has hired these same hackers to snoop through all of our files and information in a violation of our basic rights. The National Security Agency, or NSA for short, has been monitoring Internet traffic not only in America but in many nations around the world since around 2005. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they also have phone records from nearly everyone in the country. This issue has gone unnoticed for too long, and I believe now is the time to draw the red line and preserve our privacy.

Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee, revealed to The Guardian, a British newspaper, that the U.S. had a secret surveillance system called PRISM set up to monitor all communications in the U.S. and around the world. Snowden even had thousands of files pertaining to what information the NSA held. As the news leaked out, Snowden quickly fled to Hong Kong and was later granted asylum in Russia. The U.S. reacted forcefully and demanded the return of Snowden to the U.S., which Russia was unwilling to do.  Why go to such great lengths to catch someone whose crime is revealing the truth to the public?

In the book 1984 by George Orwell, “Big Brother” is mentioned quite frequently as the ruler of a totalitarian state who spies on every single action. This is exactly how we can describe the actions of the NSA. America is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the watched.

It would be fine if the government was actually spying on the criminals and terrorists, but that is not the case. Thousands of reports have been filed about how the NSA targeted law abiding citizens. Facebook and Google are two of the companies that have released transparency reports on the user information they give up and how many requests were filed by countries. The U.S. had an astonishing 11,000-12,000 requests to Facebook authorities in the last year, 79% of which were fulfilled. If that is not bad enough, only a dozen or so terrorist attacks have been averted by the NSA (numbers differ from 1 to 54). How can you justify the use of private information from over 10,000 people when the results are minimal? The Boston bombings are one example of such failure. It seems that while the NSA was going through millions of our personal files, they failed to notice the actions of the suspects from Chechnya, which were, according to the government, under surveillance for suspicious activity. It’s a shame to know that the NSA was probably snooping through some random posts on Facebook rather than attempting to catch terrorists.

Do we really have to deal with a government that feels as if spying on law abiding citizens is the right thing to do? The answer is no. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”