A Brief History
On January 16, 2014, one year ago today, The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported that the American National Security Agency (NSA) had been recording billions of global telephone messages, texts, emails and financial transactions in the name of national security. To put this into perspective, at the time of the British article’s publication, 200 million text messages were being collected daily!
This mountain of data is not just being collected from foreigners but also from American citizens! Supposedly done as part of an anti-terrorism program and with the oversight of Congress, many Congressmen and Senators were outraged and reported being previously unaware of such actions.
The revelations are part of the information released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden who, in a controversial move, revealed the NSA’s activities to the world.
Some Americans blindly trust the government to use all this data responsibly and for the purpose of protecting the country against terrorists and foreign threats, but many U.S. citizens are less trusting and feel violated. Federal courts have ruled both for and against the program, and President Obama has stated that the program is legal and vital.
It is impossible to say what the framers of the Constitution would have thought about such a thing, but according to a USA Today pew poll from January 2014, 53% of U.S. citizens are against it.
A seemingly endless stream of reports of government abuses and secrecies and power hunger behind the scenes has shocked the public and is eroding away at its good faith in its elected officials.
Question for students (and subscribers): Should the NSA gather information from Americans as well as foreigners? Should the NSA be gathering private information from anyone, whether foreign or American, with no known ties to terrorism at all? Let us know what you think in the comments section below this article. In the meantime, if you want to keep something private, do not send it electronically!
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Balthazar, Axel. Big Brother Technology: PRISM, XKeyscore, and other Spy Tools of the Global Surveillance State. Adventures Unlimited Press, 2017.