Government Spying — Do We Still Have Privacy?

Government Spying --- Do We Still Have PrivacyIn the past few days, the nation has been shaken by a report that the government has been collecting phone and Internet data from Verizon.

‘National conspiracy?’

Many have been skeptical about this report. A few have sided with the government, saying that this is a necessary step to protect the country’s safety. But many fear that nothing is hidden from the security agencies anymore. So, this is our burning question: In a world where electronic surveillance abounds, do we still have privacy?

It has been revealed that the FBI and NSA have been collecting internet data using a top-secret program called PRISM for the past six years. Is this just another glitch or “scandal” in Obama’s administration, or can we now officially label it as a national conspiracy?

‘Violating civil liberty’

When the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were passed in Congress, the government was instantly handed a tool for extensive spying on individuals. And yet they continue to reason out that they NEED to do this in order to monitor terrorist activities and to maintain national safety. But are they overreaching and is it really necessary to tap into the phone and internet records of the country’s citizens?

Indeed, it is difficult to draw the line between protecting national security and violating civil liberty. Even we ourselves are divided on this issue. Times like this, we have a hard time protecting our privacy when every transaction we have is conducted online. And yet, we find ourselves looking over our shoulder to see if we are being tracked in our every move. Do we still have control over our privacy or is it now just an illusion for us?

Image: Truth Alliance

NSA’s Collection Of Verizon Phone Records Stirs Anger Among Citizens

NSA's Collection Of Verizon Phone Records Stirs Anger Among CitizensFrightening government overreach or valuable law enforcement tool? That’s the question politicians in Washington, and millions of citizens around the United States, asked Thursday thanks to a jolting report suggesting the government has been collecting millions of Americans’ phone records.

‘Abused the intent of the law’

FBI Direct Robert Mueller will be asked about the matter — revealed after a British newspaper, the Guardian, published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order that applied to phone data from Verizon — when he appears next week before the House Judiciary Committee. The panel’s chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, issued a statement Thursday saying he was “very concerned that the Department of Justice may have abused the intent of the law, and we will investigate.”

The report will also be the subject of an upcoming classified briefing by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, is calling for a similar closed-door briefing for the entire U.S. Senate.

‘Disrupt terrorist plots’

When she read the news Thursday morning, the Maryland Democrat said, “It was like, ‘Oh, God, not one more thing … where we’re trying to protect America and then it looks like we’re spying.'”

But not everyone in the nation’s capital is outraged or even concerned. Some say the real travesty would be if the program, which they describe as valuable, is halted.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the Guardian story refers to a “three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years” — so that while the uproar may be new, the program is not. In that time, it’s helped to disrupt “terrorist plots” on U.S. soil, she said.

So what do you think about the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records — unlawful or simply a necessary step for the country’s protection?

Source: Josh Levs and Greg Botelho, CNN

Image: The Guardian