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Erosion of Civil Liberties by National Security in 1984

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Civil liberties such as personal freedom and the right to privacy are under attack today in America. This situation bears a stunning resemblance to the plot in the book titled “1984” written by George Orwell in the year 1949. In the book 1984, the citizens of Oceania are continuously observed by an omniscient leader named Big Brother. The government of Oceania controls the lives of its citizens via surveillance utilizing telescreen monitors to listen and watch citizens at any time. Although the technology and methods have changed over the decades, in writing 1984, Orwell argued against the state sponsored surveillance that is now rampant in the USA that is eroding personal freedoms, right to privacy and centralizing power and control with the state.

Personal freedom is being eroded by The National Security Agency (NSA) who is now tracking cellphone locations worldwide according to the expert opinion of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, personal freedom is freedom of the person in going and coming, equality before the courts, security of private property, freedom of opinion and its expression, and freedom of conscience subject to the rights of others and of the public. According to the Washington Post, “The National Security Agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals, map their relationships in ways that would have been previously unimaginable”. This evidence suggests there is no doubt the NSA is monitoring citizens on a global scale and the US citizens should be outraged. The NSA would argue that in order to find the needle in the hay stack, they first need to build the hay stack. The needle in this analogy is a suspected terrorist, the hay stack is everybody else who are law abiding citizens.

The Right to privacy is being eroded by The US government that operates the largest and most advanced spying, surveillance, and data collection programs on the planet. The right to privacy is alluded to in the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which states, ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause”. According to Wikipedia, The National Security Agency is an intelligence agency of the United States and is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, specializing in a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). The NSA relies on a variety of measures to accomplish its mission, the majority of which are clandestine. Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, revealed in May 2013 that the NSA was engaged in global mass surveillance via a secret program named PRISM. PRISM is a program within the NSA that collects emails, documents and photographs from U.S. companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype, YouTube and Apple.

The National Security Agency, intercepts tens of thousands of images per day of people’s faces. Those images are swept up by bulk surveillance programs that collect the images from emails, messages, social media, video conferences, and other communications, according to a 2014 New York Times report. Examination of this evidence forces the only conclusion possible and that is the similarities between the telescreen in the book 1984 and the NSA’s mass surveillance data collection mechanisms are profoundly stunning. Just as citizens living in Oceania had no way of knowing whether or not they were being observed, the US citizens also had no idea they were being watched and they had no idea they had lost their right to privacy.

Power and control over the population is now centralized with the state in this post 911 America. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), In the years since 9/11, our government has illegally kidnapped, detained and tortured numerous prisoners because the State can designate anyone, including Americans as ‘enemy combatants’ without charge. Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. According to the ALCU, the government has also secretly kidnapped people and moved them to foreign countries where they are tortured and abused. Analysis of this evidence suggests that power has indeed been centralized with the state and they are wielding that power to crush terrorism but in doing so they are trampling on the rights of every US citizen.

In conclusion, in writing 1984, Orwell argued against the state sponsored surveillance that is now rampant in the USA that is eroding personal freedoms, right to privacy and centralizing power and control with the state. The American citizens should care about this issue because this is a significant erosion of civil liberties that potentially could lead to an even more Orwellian society. 

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Erosion Of Civil Liberties By National Security In 1984. (2021, May 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from
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