Should the Government be Allowed to Take Away Our Privacy?

by alexis.nobert on September 10, 2013 - 8:13pm

The United States is always trying to protect them from terrorism and they have put in place many prevention techniques. One of these techniques is managed by the National Security Agency (NSA) and consists of collecting data from people’s personal phone calls and emails. An official document leaked by Edward Snowden indicates that Verizon was required to provide the metadata of their clients phone calls, which consists of: the phone number of both parties involved in the call, the international mobile subscriber identity number for mobile callers, calling card numbers used in the call, and the time and duration of the calls. This information was suppose to be collected only if it was considered relevant to an investigation. But, Jim Sensenbrenner, a member of the Republican Party, stated that every phone call could become relevant to an investigation because the government as created a “’dangerous version of ‘relevance’’”. As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union considers the new program as a major breach of the American constitutional rights. But the government says the complete opposite about the program because it considers it as “public interest” and does not consist of a breach of the Americans’ constitutional rights. Therefor it cannot be brought in court.

Even thought the NSA says that only the metadata were collected and that the actual content of the call was not provided to the National Security Agency, there were still much information transmitted without the users knowing. Failing to inform the population of what is done with their private information when they do a phone call does not fulfill the right to be informed. In addition, we should be able to protect our privacy, but with this new program we have no control over the disclosure of our personal information. On the other hand, this program has been put in place in order to protect the country and its population from the possible attacks by neutralizing all possible threats. Thus, the National Security Agency program fulfills satisfies the definition of the principle of beneficence because it prevents any activity that could cause harm to the country and the population.

Personally, I think that this new method of protection against possible attacks should not be allowed because it breaks many important rights and principles. We should all be able to control which personal information we disclose and be aware of when we disclose information about ourselves. But the NSA does not allow you to have such control over your personal information because any phone call that is considered relevant will be analyzed with no prior notice, this is taking away all of our right to our personal privacy. Furthermore, if you ever learn that some of your personal information as been analyzed by the government without your consent, you cannot bring the case in court because the program benefits the whole American society and is considered as of “public interest”. Not being able to bring such a case to court breaks the right to justice and as a result takes away the fairness in the system. Even though the program promotes the nation’s safety, it breaks all these fundamental rights and as result does not respect its own citizens.

Is protecting a nation’s safety a good enough reason to break peoples’ privacy?

Kravets, David. Wired. N.p. Web. 05 September 2013. <http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/09/nsa-abusing-patriot-act/>.

Comments

I strongly agree with you that we should be able to control which personal information we give away or not. On the other hand, I am, surprisingly, not totally against the data collection technique used by the NSA program. I believe the main and most important goal in this immense technological operation is to spy on fishy individuals if needed, and thus protect the country in many different ways. I think that the very tiny group of people who will have access to this huge flow of information are not there to spy on common population but more to protect them. If one has malicious intentions towards the U.S. country, then he might has good reasons to do not want to reveal his phone calls/emails (or if you are cheating on your wife working in the NSA program!). However, the rest of the people - which is near 100% - sharing common information is very unlikely to get spied by NSA employees.Nevertheless, the problem that could happen leading to a major moral issue is if people having access to these information are using it to spy on enemies or people they know. If they are taking benefit of the situation for personal reasons, then it would be incorrect to do so. Because I believe the main intention is to intercept dangers in society, I think the NSA is not to blame in this program.
Where is the fine line between privacy and security?

I am commenting on your post because I thought that it was well thought out and easy to read and I also liked the fact that you put a question at the end of your post to get your readers thinking and believe me I was thinking long and hard about it after I read your post. I agree with you that the government shouldn't be allowed to survey our phone calls for any suspicious acts that we have committed which would call us a terrorist. If anything the government by doing this are violating one of the most important ethical principals, which is not using a person as a means to an end, which means that they are using our phone calls to get out of us what they want, to catch any terrorists that are in the United States. To conclude, does this mean that the government won't stop at anything to catch the terrorists that roam the United States?