With the growing security threats in the United States such as the 9/11 attacks that claimed the lives of many Americans and foreigners, the National Security Agency put in place security measures that will ensure that the United States’ government is able to monitor its citizen’s communication. Despite the security concerns, the American constitution defends the rights and freedoms of speech of the people by upholding the principles of free living. Consequently, there have been varied reactions on the government’s efforts to monitor the communication in the interests of national security. These opponents of the governmental monitoring believe that most of the government’s enemies are external. Nevertheless, proponents argue that the government should monitor all or international communications of its citizens on the grounds of identifying individual threats. Spying efforts are not only directed towards suspected criminals and terrorists, but also to everyone else. With every step that the government takes to generate more information regarding innocent citizens, so does the people’s faith in it continuously diminishing. This paper will examine if the compromise made through violating innocent citizens bill of rights is equivalent to the benefits gained and if this should even be a matter to be evaluated.
The Data Pertaining to Americans’ Support Towards Government Surveillance
According to the Roberts (2012) "Most Americans believe government surveillance program helped prevent terrorist attacks". The data presented by Rew Researcher Center that 53% of Americans think that government surveillance can help their country to prevent terrorist attacks. However, 41% of Americans think that government surveillance cannot help the country in strengthening its national security initiatives (Meyer, 2014). Based from the data, it is apparent that more Americans supports government surveillance, but that doesn't mean that the opinion of 41% of Americans is not important. The 41% and 53% does not reflect a significant disparity. However, the 41% of Americans is a significant percentage of people expressing disagreement to surveillance. If the government would view the data and practice surveillance, anticipations of resistance from the American public is likely to cause serious conflicts because of the mere opposition to the government invading their privacy.
Historical Ten-Year Data
Meyer (2012) wrote in his essay "placing local and global surveillance under the magnifying glass" from " The patriot in-depth" examined the past surveillance scandals in the past ten years and tried to put them into perspective for the citizens to understand the thinking behind the government’s actions. First, Meyer (2014) clarified on the scandal involving the national security agency (NSA) issuing a court order asking Verizon to submit all domestic and international phone records to the government. Under scrutiny, the information released was only metadata, which contained information as who called at what time and the duration of the call. However, the government did not listen to all the calls submitted by the telecommunications company. In addition, Meyer (2014) establishes that since the government started its surveillance program after the 9/11, people know that several terrorist attacks must have been prevented, therefore, making this program beneficial to the whole society. Doherty is a writer who wrote " National Security and Civil Liberties" from Balancing Act: National Security and Civil Liberties in Post-9/11 Era. Pew research Center. The data from the essay, showed that in a decade earlier, in the aftermath of 9/11 and before the passage of the Patriot Act, opinion was nearly at reverse (55% necessary, 35% not necessary). In a poll conducted in 2011, marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, 40% of Americans stated that “in order to curb terrorism in this country it will be necessary for the average person to give up some civil liberties,” while 54% said otherwise. Therefore, that meant most of the Americans understands that the government is interest in curbing terrorism, but they also believe that the government is collecting too much personal information that violate their fundamental rights to privacy.
The Way the Government Monitor the Citizens and the Encompassing Problem
The article "NSA scandal: what data is being monitored and how does it work?" published The Guardian, it was found that the United States government has been monitoring the communication exchange between the United States and foreign nationals from the internet companies such as Google, Apple, and Yahoo (The Guardian, 2013). Internet leaders speak out on the need for government reform of surveillance from Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. This article publishes the statements of major Internet company executives who publicly declared their stand on the matter regarding the government using their sites to spy on unknowing citizens through capturing web activities. Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo states that protecting the privacy of yahoo users is critically important and that the government needs to step up and restore the confidence of the citizens, as well as Internet users around the world. Tim Armstrong of AOL, Larry Page of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg were also among the top executives from top Internet companies that made a stand against the United States government online surveillance initiatives. The government monitor people, but that doesn’t mean a person loses their sense of privacy. In this case, the government could have used staggering amount of money to implement monitoring. The United States Constitution highlights the Fourth Amendment as a protective blanket to the citizen’s rights. This provision of the Constitution helps citizens in avoiding government surveillance. It was believed that every citizen is being monitored and the cost of such undertaking is staggering. As a result public money are being wasted and creates a negative relationship between the government and the people.
The Price of the Surveillance Program
"Surveillance For a Price" from the website of the American Civil Liberties Union showed the price of the surveillance program. Most governments don’t have the resources to manufacture the surveillance technology required to hack into the computers of unsuspecting citizens. In recent years, surveillance software firms have stepped in to fill that gap, proliferating into what has become a $5 billion industry. This industry was built from the privatization of fear where past dilemma of national security threat caused fear of similar consequences. As a result, large amount of Federal budget is being allocated in sustaining that industry when government spending should have been balanced for other development priorities (Smith, 2008). Therefore, budget priorities should focus on the American economic development. The CBO expects the U.S. economy in 2014 to remain moribund and for unemployment to remain near eight percent as stated in a quote from "US Economic Outlook for 2014". Therefore, if more people are unemployed, there is a significant effect to the economy as less people are likely to pay tax. Ghitis (2013) wrote about a paper " U. S needs to get spying under control " from CNN. The effects of electronic spying have become very serious and costly debate to the economy of the United States every day. Recently, the Brazilian president cancelled a trip to the states over new evidence presented to her revealing scrupulous NSA eavesdropping tactics. Researchers argue that if the United States monitoring activities become publicly acknowledged, numerous countries will be forced to take a stand against the United States. The harm done through such an event will undoubtedly exceed the benefits reaped by the government through these monitoring efforts. The U.S government should have a good economic initiatives more than leveraging on the fear of the past at the expense of people’s liberty, otherwise, it would be difficult to afford a more efficient and socially reasonable surveillance platform. For now, the government surveillance initiative does not provide positive economic gains. If the government insists in implementing the current surveillance system, it would be difficult to sustain financial requirement of implementing it because the government simply don’t have the financial capacity for an efficient implementation. The possible implication of insisting its implementation vary from raising tax and put the money on the surveillance program, but sacrifice the means necessary to for more important developmental programs.
The Government may Lost the Citizen’s Privacy
The article “Our Surveillance Laws Are Too Permissive “ forms The New York Times revealed the result of systemic failure of all three branches of government — and if we are going to restore some measure of the privacy that the Constitution guarantees, we will need systemic reform. Retrieved from The U.S. surveillance laws are too lenient and, they cannot protect the privacy of citizens. If there would instances similar to the 9/11 tragedies, the government can't keep up with information tracking and poses a very big problem. In addition, if there is a perpetrator breaking into the monitoring statements, it is likely that the perpetrator can get their hands on any information about everyone. Furthermore, it poses a bigger threat to security. A notion of individuals getting their hands on private information, chance are, they can implicate greater danger anyone, which is one of the reason that people don't want to keep their personal information private. Having the majority of the people being skeptical about divulging their personal information out in the open, it is, therefore, impossible to believe that the USA government actually has the ability to keep people's privacy safe.
The article " How the NSA's Surveillance Procedures Threaten Americans' Privacy " from Threaten Americans Privacy shows that the rules were initially intended to protect Americans’ privacy is becoming very weak, and that the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense have violated the basic rights of the citizens privacy. In addition, this can support the argument that citizens will lose their right and dignity if they allow the government to monitor since there is no law to protect them. This is an authoritative source, since this source came from “American Civil Liberties Union” and the article has complete information background regarding citizen’s fundamental rights that the government has the power to control the people leading to loss their privacy. This article creates a realization as to why the peoples’ right to privacy is becoming extinct.
The American Perception About Government Surveillance
Jaycox is a writer who wrote about the ". Update: polls continue to show a majority of Americans against NSA spying " from Electronic Frontier Foundation. In January 2014, this article through a poll survey confirmed that most Americans are concerned with the surveillance program headlined by the NSA. Notably, over 66% of Americans participating in the poll were concerned with the collection and use of their personal information by the national security agency (NSA). More recently, another poll revealed that the majority of American’s did not agree with the act of the government-collecting phone and Internet data for anti- terrorism activities. Over 59% also wanted surveillance reforms as a whole while the 63% demanded more oversight in the spying programs. Therefore, if the government wants to work on the surveillance project, the government should have enough diaphaneity. However, Will the government reveal to the people that they are monitoring them? It is impossible. Since when people realized that they are under surveillance, it is likely that they would just avoid using the phone or any communication tools that will open them up to tracking. To have diaphaneity is very difficult for people to accept.
Obama's Government Surveillance
The article "Obama's Flip-Flop on Spying" form Sullum (2013) reveals that before when president Obama took office, he went on record saying that the kind of unaccountable surveillance power that the government of the United States had over its people was very wrong. However, years after getting into office, the president argues that the issue of surveillance is inevitable for national security. This peer-reviewed journal examines the advantages and disadvantages of the US government surveillance over its citizens in through Obama. Though the president argues claims to welcome the surveillance debate, he thinks that this topic should be avoided. He argues that there is no way a country can have 100% of security as well as 100% of privacy. He also goes on record stating the once he got into power, suddenly the security of the nation took priority over civil rights. However, citizens should know that the senate, as well as the foreign intelligence surveillance court, monitors the surveillance activities. At the same time when people know they are under monitor, they would do everything avoid to it.
The Law of the Surveillance
“A conspiracy so vast -- it's not just the NSA, now the FBI, your local police are also spying on US citizens" from FOX News Network said that the government’s projects on surveillance continue to violate the fourth amendment that was put in place as the foundation of this free nation. The government would have to obtain a warrant issued by a judge authorizing government agents to search certain premises or have their personal belonging seized in order to operate lawfully. However, the United States can only offer warrants if there is probable cause of criminal behavior. Citizens also argue that since they know that they are under surveillance, free choices are reduced, and their normal behavior is altered. If the government wants to practice the surveillance project, the government should change the law.
Government side v. Citizens’ side
“Why we need government surveillance” from Cable News Network. The editor is a professor of law and chairman of the department of humanities at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. “This 21st century war is different and requires new ways and methods of gathering information. As technology has increased, so has our ability to gather valuable, often actionable, intelligence” (CNN). In this essay, a different opinion was expressed that is opposite of my opinion. Government should not have the right to monitor the people’s commination. However, in the essay “Why we need government surveillance” it shows that United States is an open society that should need to use technology to protect itself. I don't agree with such standpoint. In my other sources, “Balancing Act: National Security and Civil Liberties” from Pew research Center. It shows that majority of Americans believe that the government is collecting too much personal information that violates their privacy. Therefore, I believe I can have another source to counter such argument to support my subject of discussion. My topic is people should have their right to protect their privacy.
Government surveillance project is hard to working on. Economic, citizens thought are the main problem for it to be success. Government should respect for the citizens. Citizens are the main things of a country. There will always be a rebellion until the government took the initiative to listen to the people’s predicaments. I strongly disagree against government monitoring since it is not economically viable for the country to allocate its financial resources on a risky project.
Kowitt, B. D. (2014). Government backs off use of drones to surveil citizens, but red light camera use explodes. Retrieved from: http://www.ungerandkowitt.com/traffic-ticket blog/bid/145067/Government-Backs-Off-Use-of-Drones-to-Surveil-Citizens-But-Red-Light-Camera-Use-Explodes
Ghitis, F. (2013, Oct 25). U. S needs to get spying under control. CNN. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/25/opinion/ghitis-u-s-spying/
Jaycox, M. M. (2014, Jan 22). Update: polls continue to show a majority of Americans against NSA spying: Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/10/polls-continue-show-majority-americans-against-nsa-spying
Smith, D. E. (2008). Privacy at risk: the new government surveillance and the Fourth Amendment. Choice, 45(9), 1619. Retrieved from http://www.pierce.ctc.edu:2077/pqrl/docview/225724370/fulltextPDF/6B62CACA8EC64CEAPQ/6?accountid=2280
The Guardian. (2013, Dec 9). Internet leaders speak out on the need for government reform of surveillance. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/dec/09/internet-leaders-speak-out-on-the-need-for-government-reform-of-surveillance
Wyatt, E., & Miller, C. C. (2013, Dec 9). Tech giants issue calls for limits on government surveillance of users: The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/technology/tech-giants-issue-call-for-limits-on-government-surveillance-of-users.html?r=0
Roberts, P. C. (2013, June 12). The US government secretly, illegally, and unconstitutionally spies on it citizens: what is the agenda? Global Research. Retrieved from: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-government-secretly-illegally-and-unconstitutionally-spies-on-its-citizens-what-is-the-governments-agenda/5338708
Napolitano, A. P. (2013, Dec 12). A conspiracy so vast—it’s not just the NSA, now the FBI, your local police are also spying on US citizens. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/12/12/conspiracy-so-vast/
Ravinsky, J. (2013, June 12). Snooping states: NSA not alone in spying on citizens. Christian Science Monitor. p. N.PAG.
Sullum, J. (2013). Obama's Flip-Flop on Spying. Reason, 45(5), 10.
Meyer, M. (2014). The patriot in-depth: placing local and global surveillance under the magnifying glass. Retrieved from: http://www.jcpatriot.com/top-stories/2014/03/03/the-patriot-in-depth-spying-surveillance-and-snowden-oh-my/