Many agencies of the government, including President Obama have defended the collection of phone records and Internet use data by stating that these efforts are key to the global fight against not only terrorism, but also financial crime, sexual crimes and surveillance by foreign powers. Many people in America and elsewhere are very concerned with the ramifications of these programs. Privacy issues (vis-a-vis the government and private business interests) are at the forefront of this concern, but there also issues of personal security, government intrusion and potential limits on freedom of speech.
One of the most interesting aspects of this entire issue is how much information we voluntarily give to the government and to private corporations. A couple of years ago, and continuing to this day, a debate began about police officers downloading smart phone information without a warrant during routine traffic stops. Many smart phones contain GPS tracking software that can tell the police, and its manufacturer where you have been. The most well-known of these phones is the Apple iPhone. There was an uproar over this information when it was disclosed, and it was also reported widely that there is an easy way to disable this feature, yet most people do not, and their information continues to be collected.
In just briefly perusing two main social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, one can easily observe that the p...
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...ion with government programs such as this. The airwaves and telephone lines/cables of the country are ruled and regulated by the government. Contracts, mergers, and patents, are all under the control of the government. A corporation that does not cooperate could likely find itself losing out on contracts and business to competitors who do. This in turn, gives the government even more power over the individual.
Obviously, there must be a balance. In an age of increasing anonymity and mass culture, freedom of expression and privacy are more important than ever. This must be balanced with safety in an age of terrorism and of weapons of mass destruction. The key is the oversight of data collection, and possibly the oversight of the oversight (“Who is watching the watchers?”), and the vigorous prosecution of anyone or any entity that breaks the law. Including the NSA.
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