Wake up, people!

by Zoe.Papadatos on August 28, 2013 - 9:56pm

In May of 2013, Edward Snowden, an American computer specialist who worked for the CIA and the NSA, leaked details of top secret, mass-surveillance programs run by the NSA to the press. In June, the American government charged the whistleblower with espionage and theft of government property.

 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program violates the constitution. However, the NSA claims that the only data collected was “metadata”, such as the numbers called or the duration of the calls. However, many agree that the NSA has overstepped their bounds. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, author of the Patriot Act in 2001, says that the NSA has “scooped up the entire ocean to catch a fish.” Despite this popular opinion, the mass-collection of data was approved by the Fisa Court.

 

An anonymous author once said: “When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are ruled by criminals.” I couldn’t think of a more fitting quote to express my feelings towards the NSA scandals. I find it hard to believe that Americans have yet to put their foot down when so many people are obviously outraged by the news. After all, this scandal has remained prominent in the news for almost half a year. How far can the American people be pushed before they start pushing back? Sure, there have been protest here and there, small and big, but how much different can their government have become? Wake up, America! Big brother is looking down at your every move and it’s time for them to see a change.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/27/nsa-surveillance-program-il...

Comments

Edward Snowden acted with morality in this issue. He had a deontological point of view when he leaked details of top secret. Although he agreed of confidentiality, it was his duty to reveal the world what the National Security Agency had done. The accusations of espionage and theft of government property are not justified. Snowden obviously revealed information that he got while he has working for the CIA and the NSA but nothing leads to the idea that he had planned to spy. Edward Snowden did not respect the confidentiality agreement and this is all he should be accused of.

Edward Snowden felt obligated to act in a way he viewed as morally correct. By using a virtue ethics approach he knew there would be consequences for his actions of breaching contract by leaking details of top secret programs run by the NSA. However despite the consequences, he did it with good intentions – to advise the public, he did what he considered to be morally responsible in the given situation.

Edward Snowden valued honesty, freedom and no matter what the consequences were he made an ethical decision. He decided using a deotologist point of view, that revealing the top secret information was better than keeping it to himself. He had the duty to reveal this information since it went against what he valued. Snowden was obviously used as an example for future "offenders" by the U.S government. This is probably why nothing has been done against the government. People are scared to suffer the same fate as Snowden. But what if the Americans objected in numbers? Mass protests against the incarceration of snowden and the fact that NSA are spying on them... the government could not possibly sentence everyone!

I think it's safe to say Edward was acting upon moral values during this situation, whether it be virtue ethics, deontological point of view or even consequentialism. In his eyes he saw two potential outcomes for America. The first being a place where the population remains ignorant as the government slowly takes over the privacy and safety of those they control. And another possibility where power is given to the people, where they become aware of the situation going on around them and act upon it. Of course he knew there would be repercussions, I think he was aware that it would happen, but in his mind the consequences of keeping quiet would have been far worse than spilling the news.

I believe that the NSA should be allowed to do whatever it wants if the end result is someone’s life being saved. The NSA itself is using both a consequentialist and a deontological approach in this matter because they are trying to make sure that by the end of these investigations they will have prevented many major and serious crimes. These range from terrorist attacks, which can kill thousands of people at a time, to a simple robbery. The NSA believes, as do I, that it is your right as a human being to prevent the suffering and death of others if it is in your power to do so.

I believe that the NSA should be allowed to do whatever it wants if the end result is someone’s life being saved. The NSA itself is using both a consequentialist and a deontological approach in this matter because they are trying to make sure that by the end of these investigations they will have prevented many major and serious crimes. These range from terrorist attacks, which can kill thousands of people at a time, to a simple robbery. The NSA believes, as do I, that it is your right as a human being to prevent the suffering and death of others if it is in your power to do so.

Seeing as how this surveillance violates people’s rights, Edward Snowden must have used a mix of deontology and his own personal values, such as honesty, when leaking this information. After all, this could have costed him his job by outing the truth. However, perhaps many Americans value safety over their freedom if they aren’t trying to actively dismantle this system. After all, letting this data be taken would allow the NSA to see connections between criminals and keeping the innocent safe. The real problem arises from the definition they will give of "innocence" and "suspicious behaviour" and how they will consequentially use the information gathered.

I believe that Americans should not let this happen; the NSA’s mass-surveillance program violates the first and fourth amendments. Phone calls can be extremely confidential, like Felten wrote; the calls include “calls to certain helplines, or support groups, for instance sexual assault, domestic violence or abortion clinics” which are all tracked by the NSA. The NSA has no right to record people’s privacy. I find it outrageous that the Fisa Court gave permission to the NSA to collect phone metadata, because nothing tells us that the NSA won’t secretly continue tracking the phone calls. Nothing stops them from pretending they only collect metadata. A deontological approach to this issue would be that the American people have the right for personal privacy, which the NSA is deliberately violating. The American people need to stand up for their rights and demand stricter jurisdiction.

The general reason given by the government is to stop terrorists from committing atrocities, which makes sense. But I do not trust anyone, especially the government with that information. If someone does something the government does not like, the government could look through all their information on that person, and find a reason to arrest them. This reduces free speech. A person who values privacy will not agree with this “big-brother” supervision of everyone. No one should own that much information. Are a few deaths caused by terrorists plots worth sabotaging the privacy of millions upon millions of people?

What makes the issue of the NSA’s alleged violation of American privacy as interesting to me and worth noting as it is, besides the fact that it brings to light the tendency the United States has shown of leaning slightly more towards socialistic policies when concerning internal affairs, is how easily the complacency of the U.S. citizens can be brought out by a simple reversal of ethical analysis. Essentially, the people did not believe that recording this personal “metadata” was something that could be considered a deontologically ethical, which is an argument that could very realistically be defended. In response, the U.S. officials almost unanimously responded in a typically consequentialist manner, saying that halting any future terrorist attacks could only be done using preventative measures such as these; apparently, this was enough to get most people to shut up. Instead of making any sort of retort to defend the majority of the U.S. citizens set of values and beliefs, the issue was closed, the matter considered “resolved”. Simply goes to show the limited understanding many Americans have of ethics, I suppose. I just hope Snowden wasn’t expecting anything more than a lazy huff from his fellow Americans.

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