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The digital age of technology is now upon us. Everyday more information is being put online. From our medical records, to our online purchases, and other various things. Ever since 911 the government has been spying on us more and more. Using our phone calls, text messages, and emails. With the government having nearly complete access to this information they can tell where we are, who we talk to, and what we buy. Every single day the government is infringing more and more on our civil liberties, bypassing laws and the constitution. The government should have restricted access to our personal information online.
The government has access to all kinds of information. Americans are becoming more and more digitized as they put more and more of our information online. If the government wants, they can know almost anything about you. The government collects information like our social media posts (“FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs” 2). The government can watch how people’s day to day lives go by collecting social media posts. Much more privately the government collects data like our emails and phone calls (“FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs” 2). With the government always knowing who you’re talking to you’ll never get full privacy again.
The government’s surveillance power goes beyond the American people. The United States government has access to date of non-U.S. citizens. “There does not appear to be any legal restrictions on what the NSA can do with the communications of non-U.S. persons” (“FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs” 7). The mistrust other countries and their people must feel towards America must be very high, since they know we are spying on them. “The European Union has already complained to the U.S. Attorney General” (“FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs” 8). There must be a serious problem when the countries of the European Union complain about United States surveillance.
September 11th was the day America changed forever. The Patriot Act changed the way America is run. The USA Patriot Act was passed in response to the 9/11 Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. It allows average everyday citizens to be monitored. The Patriot Act is what allows us to be so heavily monitored. It is supposed to protect the American people against terrorism but is being used to spy on it’s people. By spying on the American people the Patriot Act disturbs some of our basic constitutional rights.
The US Freedom Act was designed to protect freedom’s of Americans. Passed by President Obama to restore some of the civil liberties of the American people. “Ended the bulk collection of records” (“Patriot Act” 3). “It also required better transparency and more information sharing between the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the American people” (“Patriot Act” 3). However while the Freedom Act has restored some civil liberties, it still “allows limited use of bulk data collection under Section 215 in an emergency” (“Patriot Act” 3). While the Freedom Act is good, it does not go far enough to protect civil liberties.
PRISM was created to investigate foreigners, but it’s also being used on American citizens. The Prism program allows the NSA to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders (Greenwald 5). Bypassing the American people’s fourth amendment right to a warrant. The biggest tech companies in the world are giving up your private information. “The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants” (Greenwald 1). The amounts of data the government can get from these big tech companies is large.
Laws and acts created by the government have continuously bypassed our legal and constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution is continually being bypassed by the government. Many civil liberties groups are claiming that the Patriot Act violates the American people’s fourth amendment rights by expanding the power of government surveillance. The United States courts are taking a stand against the Patriot Act which is a step in the right direction for the United States. “Some parts of the law were found illegal by the courts” (“Patriot Act” 3), like the bulk collection of phone records (“Patriot Act” 3).
When the most powerful leader in the world bypasses laws, there begins a much more serious problem. In December , we found out that the President had authorized wiretaps of Americans without court orders required by law (Feingold 4). Time and time again the President has overstepped his power. Whether it be the President or Congress, someone always seem to be overriding our rights. Time and time again the government has hidden important information from us. The American people would not have known all the data the government collects had it not been for Edward Snowden. The government needs to be checked in what it can and can not do.
The American people are losing more and more trust in the government. When Edward Snowden leaked information about the government spying on us, it changed Americans views on the government accessing our information. “52% described themselves as “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about government surveillance of Americas’ data and election communications” (“The state of privacy in post-Sweden America” 3). When 1 in 2 Americans don’t feel safe about the government surveillance something must be done to win the American trust back. “57% said it was unacceptable for the government to monitor the communications of United States citizens” (“The state of privacy in post-Sweden America” 3). The American people are losing faith in the government, so the government must step in and reform some of the legislation they have passed to appease the American people.
Americans have started to take precautions to make sure they are not being monitored by anyone. Some 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove their digital footprints (“The state of privacy in post-Sweden America” 4). The people are trying to get away from surveillance in any possible way they can. People have started to clear their cookies, encrypting emails, avoiding the use of their name, and using virtual networks that mask their internet protocol (“The state of privacy in post-Sweden America” 4). Combatting the government is hard, but taking these steps can help the American people protect their privacy.
The government should have less access to all of our personal information online. The ability for the government to constantly know everything about you and everything you’re doing shows a clear abuse of power. The government again and again bypasses its own laws and the thing that is supposed to keep them in check, the constitution. Setting up tools to spy on its own people like the Patriot Act and PRISM is causing a severe lack of trust in the government when it comes to monitoring our data online. There needs to be a greater restriction on what the government can and cannot do.
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