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Pros Of Surveillance

Benjamin Wittes is for the Domestic Surveillance and he argues the positive side of surveillance in the country. He argued that he NSA is an intelligence agency that collects intelligence in large amounts. It also spies on other countries and their leaders, then tries to make sense of the material it collects using data-analytic techniques. The NSA programs breaks encryption systems that its potential targets use to protect their communications and develops relationships with private companies that is useful to them by providing data for them. Also, the NSA programs engages in activity that is illegal in the countries against which it operates.1)

Bolton backs up Wittes’ arguments by saying we must prevent hype and anger over specific abuses from harming the NSA’s actual capabilities and the secrecy needed to protect them. He also states that intelligence exists not for its own sake, but to support executive decision making. He is making the straightforward liberty vs. safety argument above in the specific context of the NSA. 1)

He believes that the NSA’s current strategy represents an appropriate balance between liberty and safety. As a result, he argues, moves to decrease the NSA’s ability to infringe on our alleged liberties will come at the expense of safety. He states, “The answer is not to cower or hide from Big Brother, nor to blind our watch dogs. The solution is to answer surveillance with sousveillance, or looking back at the mighty from below. Holding light accountable with reciprocal light. Letting our watch dogs see but imposing choke-chain limits on what they do.”1)

Honoroff is also in agreement with both Wittes and Bolton and he argues this anger is both understandable and justifiable, very few people have stopped to consider the other side of the situation. He believes you would have to choose between national security and total privacy, but you cannot have both. However, a modern democratic environment society would require a compromise between the both of them. He also states that we should keep in mind that to this day there is absolutely no indication that the NSA has done anything illegal or outside of its parameters of its mission statement.1)

The NSA monitors external threats to the U.S, but does not turn its attention to the American citizens without probable cause. He says that he is not saying that there is any evidence that goes against the documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden, but if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about. The NSA has a specific mission which does not include sifting through the every scrap of data to find crimes that are best handled by local authorities. They are looking for evidence of the more high profile threats to the national security. He furthered his argument by making a point by saying the average American’s talking, texting, and posting would not raise any red flags for that behavior so it is likely to float by unnoticed. Although the NSA can spy on you does not mean they are.2)

Keith Alexander states “it is not classified to keep it from you: a good person. It's classified because sitting among you are people who wish us harm.“ While the thought of the NSA controlling every bit of information that the average American citizen posts online is upsetting, Alexander assured us that a terrorist attack is even worse for a country's basic freedoms. Alexander said, discussing a number of planned attacks that the NSA foiled over the last 10years. “It is worth considering what would have happened in the world if those attacks — 42 of those 54 were terrorist plots — if they were successfully executed. What would that mean to our civil liberties and privacy?” He believes that that are only likely to spy on individuals that are engaged in alarming behavior, in which it’s good for the programs to be far-reaching and little-known.3)

In December 2013, more than 100,000 Americans signed an online petition calling on the Obama administration to support ECPA reform so there are people in agreement with the government having access to the things we do.4)

Cons Of Surveillance

Elizabeth Goitein stated that the programs created by the NSA for surveillance threatens Americans' privacy. She said is described their acts as disingenuous because they chose to characterize the meta-data being collected as phone numbers, but in actuality these sophisticated computer programs can hack volumes of sensitive information from this metadata about people's relationships, activities, an even beliefs. This is why these programs are considered by them as being valuable because if the programs told the NSA nothing, then they would not even bother with the time and expense of having them. In this day and age even generic data can tell the government a whole lot about people from where they live, who they hang with, what they do, and what they think.5)

Goitein furthered her argument by making it clear that the government's concerns has failed to tell the American people fully why they should care. Very few Americans feel any tangible effects from increased surveillance. The vast majority of law abiding citizens go about their lives without fear of being persecuted by the government and this may be a problem. Goitein added the statement that free societies tend to take their freedom for granted, but our liberties do not derive from the innate trustworthiness of our elected representatives.6)

She went on by stating that the NSA's data collection programs were approved by the federal judges and Congress knew about them and said their only use of the data being collected was to identify terrorists. The issue with this is that these programs may be illegal. The government admitted that they obtains Americans' telephone record in bulk, which requires a records investigative relevance before obtaining it according to the section 215 of the Patriot Act, but claims they are not examined by officials unless there are reasons to suspect a terrorist link.7)

How It Affects Me

The affects surveillance has on me is both positive and negative. The positive affect is I can feel safe knowing that crime may be cut to a minimum in society and I can carry on living life knowing that the people around me may not be so quick to bring any harm towards myself and my loved ones. The negative affect is knowing the government has so much access to my personal life. They may have my deepest and darkest secrets recorded and they may also have seen me fully naked. I cannot live comfortable knowing that Uncle Sam is always watching me. Also, I believe there will be more underhanded things going on with this because of the way they tried to hide it. The government is always up to something and majority of the time the acts are selfish and not for the greater good of society.

affects_on_society.txt · Last modified: 2015/04/29 18:42 by