Extensive US Surveillance Program Uncovered
What are you willing to give up for security? Is freedom absolute, or are there some liberties that you would concede to the government? Furthermore, are there some things that the government should be allowed to keep a secret from you in the name of your safety? On June 5th, information leaked by Edward Snowden, a contractor working for the United States National Security Agency (NSA), revealed an unprecedented surveillance program. The agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of customers of the company Verizon. In April, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) authorized the agency to collect data about calls, although not the contents of them or personal information of callers. Data collection of this kind was authorized under President George W. Bush, but until now it was not known whether President Barack Obama had continued it. The breadth of this is also unusual, as Fisa courts normally mandate the turnover of more targeted records. Later, another NSA program called Prism was uncovered that allows the government access into the systems of large internet companies. With this, the government can collect data including search history and the content of emails. Under Prism cases no longer require individual court authorization, and there must only be reasonable belief that the target is a foreigner. The US intelligence community defends the programs as an important tool to fight terrorists. Some, including many members of Congress, condemn this as an invasion of civil liberties, however, and are critical of the secrecy of the programs. These programs fall within existing laws, but their reveal has led to intense scrutiny. As you read through the perspectives, consider this: Should the government engage in surveillance for the sake of security, or not?