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NSA: National Security or Invasion of Privacy?

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Zack Morris

on 4 May 2015

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Transcript of NSA: National Security or Invasion of Privacy?

History of NSA Surveillance
In June 2013, Edward Snowden leaked information to the press, telling of how the NSA (National Security Agency) has been keeping track of American citizens'
metadata
. This heightened security began after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, and has only grown over the years. Government officials have said that this surveillance didn't keep any of the content of the messages, but Snowden revealed details about a program called RETRO, which says otherwise. RETRO is a tool that constantly records and stores all phone calls made within a country and stores them for up to 30 days, and during this period they can be accessed and listened to before being deleted. Snowden's leaks sparked a great deal of controversy among the American people, as a great deal felt that the government was violating their rights to privacy.
Arguments
Many Americans feel that what the NSA is doing is a direct violation of privacy as American citizens. Many feel that this surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment, which keeps citizens safe from unwarranted search and seizure of private property. Some also argue that this violates our Third Amendment right to not quarter soldiers against out will, as this amendment goes hand-in-hand with the Fourth Amendment. Judge Richard J. Leon also made the argument that this action is similar to tracking a suspect's location via GPS, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012. Many argue that the NSA's methods of gathering metadata actually results in the gathering of private, personal information with no harmful intent.
NSA members and government officials have made various arguments, both in denying and defending, the information that Edward Snowden leaked to the public. They have said that this surveillance and gathering of information has simply not taken place, while others have said that their programs used to collect the calls and files is strictly used to gather the files, but without actually listening to the content therein. Other officials, as well as some citizens, have stated that this collection of information is done with good intentions, as it aids the NSA in keeping a watchful eye out for terrorists, as well as other criminals. NSA Spokeswoman Vanee Vines even came forth to state that it is the NSA's job to "identify threats within modern systems of communication."
My Opinion
I personally feel that what the NSA has been doing all this years is a direct violation of both the Fourth Amendment, and our privacy as American citizens. I feel that the NSA has no right to invade our personal lives, and that their methods, such as the use of RETRO, goes beyond searching for terrorists and instead can, and will, be used to gather information about common people who do nothing wrong. What the NSA is doing is not protecting the people; what they are doing is spying on upstanding American citizens. I side completely with Judge Leon, Snowden, and the great deal of Americans whose privacy is being invaded by the NSA.
Works Cited
Gellman, Barton, and Ashkan Soltani. "NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls." The Washington Post (2014).
Newell, Bryce Clayton and Tennis, Joseph T., Me, My Metadata, and the NSA: Privacy and Government Metadata Surveillance Programs (October 25, 2013). Proceedings of the 2014 iConference, pp. 345-55 (2014).
Mornin, Joseph D., NSA Metadata Collection and the Fourth Amendment (July 24, 2014). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 29, 2014.
Friedland, Steven, The Third Amendment, Privacy and Mass Surveillance (November 21, 2013). Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-16.
Savage, Charlie. "Judge Questions Legality of NSA Phone Records." The New York Times. The New York Times 16 (2013).
NSA: National Security or Invasion of Privacy?
What is "Metadata?"
Metadata can be defined as "data that describes other data." What this means is that metadata can be used to find out details about files, such as messages or phone calls, and make it easier to figure out exactly when/where a file was created, who it was created by, and what the file actually holds.
Zack Morris
Full transcript