Has sparked the debate whether the NSA should
Has anyone wondered if they are secretly being spied on? Everyday many people use their smartphone for different purposes whether it is for social media or sending emails. What if there is someone spying on someone else even when he or she turns off their phone or computer and the person is spying through a webcam to see what he or she is doing? Or perhaps there is someone snooping through people’s emails and messages? Surely it does not feel constitutional or right that someone is allowed to go through other people’s private information without the consent or right to do so. The National Security Agency, also known as the NSA, has been accused by many people across the world, not just the United States, of spying on their own citizens and even other countries. The NSA is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense which was first started to intercept foreign communications and make and break codes. However, the NSA began stirring up controversy after Edward Snowden, a former contractor of the NSA who has been charged with espionage, leaked classified documents of the NSA. According to the Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, he began collecting documents on the NSA’s surveillance activities. The activities included the agency’s secret monitoring of the telephone calls and internet usage of millions of U.S. citizens. In addition, the documents revealed that the NSA spied on both U.S. allied and enemy countries around the world, including most Latin American nations, Germany, China, and other countries. The documents also revealed that the NSA hacked into the computers of foreign nations and intercepted the communications of foreign diplomats at United Nations headquarters in New York City. It is evident that the NSA has spied on the U.S. and other countries thanks to the released documents by Edward Snowden and therefore sparked the debate whether the NSA should be allowed to spy on U.S. Citizens specifically. The NSA should not be allowed to spy on people in their homes, devices, or any private info as it interferes with people’s privacy and rights. Everyone in the U.S. has rights, and one of them is privacy. The fourth amendment gives that right as defined “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, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (Pauley, 50). The fourth amendment allows people to have private information without the interference of the government. Furthermore, the constitutional right protects people’s privacy from government officials interfering or abusing their private information. Key phrases like “unreasonable searches” and “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause” relates to the situation of the NSA spying on people. The NSA should not unreasonably search through people’s private data from their devices and spy on them without their consent. If the NSA is spying on innocent people then it would go against the fourth amendment as there has to be “probable cause” in order to do so. Although one can argue that the fourth amendment was enacted to keep the government from conducting searches without a warrant or probable cause in people’s property physically, this can still be applied to the NSA espionage situation. The catch is that society has now become technologically advanced that many people use computers or smartphones to send or keep private information. This does not give the NSA the right to snoop through people’s private data in their device or even watch them. The fourth amendment still applies only this time private information is on people’s devices rather than on a notebook or anything physical. William H. Pauley, a former United States District Judge, asks “Is not one’s computer and phone the modern equivalent of a locked desk?” and assures it does in fact qualify as a personal belonging. (Pauley, 50). Therefore, it makes sense that a computer or phone should not be searched through by the government. The article “Constitutionality” further states “Reuters reported on August 5, 2013, that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) admitted to covering up the use of information illegally obtained from the NSA and falsifying the source of evidence. This included information obtained by the NSA from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants, and a massive database of telephone records, all without benefit of a proper warrant or probable cause. The DEA then gave this information to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans”. Obviously, this is a violation of the fourth amendment because the DEA got information from the NSA who gained the information from people’s phone and data without probable cause or a warrant. The DEA had no right in the first place to attain the information from the NSA, so it makes the situation worse considering the fact that the NSA gained the information from people’s private data while violating the fourth amendment. In final analysis, the espionage of the NSA on its own citizens goes against the fourth amendment because it is supposed to protect them from the government intruding into their private stuff. On the other hand, some may believe that the NSA should be allowed to spy on the people for safety purposes. Ever since the horrific event of 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed to prevent those type of events from happening in the future by taking security more serious according to Peter Suderman in “Stop spying, NSA!” It is true that the information retrieved by the NSA can be used for safety purposes to stop future catastrophic events like terrorists attacks; however, Peter Suderman mentions in his article that the six-member board released a report in January saying “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,” meaning that the NSA has yet to do something that will help counter a terrorist attack. All the information that the NSA has gathered has not helped them stop a terrorist attack from occurring, so it makes the whole concept of them spying on people useless. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report proceeds to say “We are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.” Again, the NSA has not contributed much to terrorist plots or helped stop a terrorist attack. Overall, the National Security Agency can gather information from the people for security purposes to prevent future attacks like terrorist attacks, but they have yet to do so. Unless there is a change in the constitution, the fourth amendment still applies to everyone. The United States of America is either loved or hated by every other country. Unfortunately the fact that the U.S. spied on other countries adds fuel to the fire, as countries like Germany and Brazil; for example, have been spied on by the United.States, and Bruce Strokes explains the situation in his article “NSA Spying: A Threat To US Interests?” Strokes states that Europeans are worried about personal privacy and they believe that national security should not allow for invasion of privacy; the majority coming from Germany and France. If Germany and France dislike the national government invading privacy, then they obviously wouldn’t appreciate the U.S. for spying on people. Bruce Stokes wrote about the NSA getting exposed for spying on German politician leader Angela Merkel and referred to a survey by the Pew Research Center which found that 56 percent of Americans said “it is unacceptable for the United States to monitor the phone calls of the leaders of allied nations, including Merkel” compared to the 36 percent that said it was acceptable. (Stokes, 1). Charlie Campbell expresses in his article that Germany claims Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders were also victims of NSA surveillance. (Campbell, 1). It was not okay for the United States to spy on Angela Merkel because they had no business in doing so. Of course, Angela Merkel was angered by such surveillance activity and must have caused tension and some sort of distrust between Germany and the United States. Although the relationship between Germany and the United States is neutral, spying on Germany would disrupt the relationship that both countries have. No country admires another country spying on them, as it is a violation of privacy. Everyone enjoys to have their own privacy just like the United States does too. The NSA spying on other countries makes them more disliked by other countries, for it creates a belief that the United States has so much power that they are able to spy on other countries secretly when they should not be allowed to. In another similar case, the U.S. was caught spying on Dilma Rousseff who was the president of Brazil at the time of the spying situation (Rayman, 1). Noah Rayman in his article says “The country has responded fiercely to the spying allegations — including that the NSA monitored President Dilma Rousseff’s cellphone.” (Rayman, 1). Clearly, the surveillance activity by the NSA angered Dilma Rousseff because on October 2013 she cancelled an official visit to the United States. (Rayman, 1). Dilma Rousseff describe the United States spying on her as “a breach of international law.” (Campbell, 1). It goes to show that the NSA snooping on other countries causes a disconnection in the relationship they have. In this case, because of their actions, the then president of Brazil didn’t even want to visit the United States; therefore, causing the disconnection between the two countries and a sense of untrustworthiness. To summarize, the NSA spying on different countries, such as the espionage scandals with Germany and Brazil, damages the relationship the United States has with them and makes the United States more disliked by other nations.It is apparent that the NSA is able to attain so much information from people from the U.S. and other countries. They have so much personal private data, for no one really knows how much data they could have possibly taken. In the article “NSA Backtracks on Sharing Number of Americans Caught In Warrantless Spying” by Reuters, he indicates that for more than a year, U.S. intelligence officials reassured lawmakers they were working to calculate and reveal how many Americans have their digital communications surveillanced under a warrant-less surveillance law intended to target foreigners. (Reuters, 1). He continues writing that Dan Coats, a republican politician appointed by Donald Trump as the top U.S. Intelligence official, testified and said “it remains infeasible to generate an exact, accurate, meaningful, and responsive methodology that can count how often a U.S. person’s communications may be collected.” (Reuters, 1). Roughly, what Dan Coats is saying is that with all the resources that the NSA has and can gain, they cannot calculate an estimate of how many people the NSA has surveilled on before. Privacy experts claim that it could be in the millions which should be obvious. (Reuters, 1). It is insane that the NSA collects so much data from people across the world that they don’t even have an estimate of the amount of people they have spied on. Liza Goitein, a privacy expert at the Brennan Center said it best “How can we accept the government’s reassurance that our privacy is being protected when the government itself has no idea how many Americans’ communications are being swept up and stored?” (Reuters, 1). If the NSA is collecting private data from others without their consent, how can anybody be sure that their data is protected? They could be hacked and all of a sudden all the data is in the hands of a hacker. Even though people argue that the NSA collecting data should not matter, it should matter because all the private data ends up in the hands of the government where they don’t know how much data and how many people they gain data from. In essence, because the government is unable to assure that people’s privacy is protected and give a number of people that they surveilled, they shouldn’t be allowed to spy on them, for it can be a recipe for disaster if it is not safe.The private digital communication data the NSA gains can end up in the wrong hands such as a hacker or a former worker of the NSA and could end up sending the data to another country. Apparently, there was a former contractor of the NSA, similar to Edward Snowden, named Harold Thomas Martin III who was accused of stealing top secret documents as specified by Lester Holt and Pete Williams in their article. He was charged with stealing paper documents and downloading classified material. (Holt and Williams, 1). If someone like Harold Thomas Martin III was able to obtain such classified information, he could have sent that information to another country like North Korea or Russia. Undoubtedly, it reveals how unsecure domestic data is by the NSA. Since the NSA cannot secure domestic data from the people, and of course across the world, it makes the situation worse because it adds on with violating the constitution again. A lot of the spying that the NSA commits to could be hacked or taken by someone else and released which goes to show the unsecurity of the NSA. For example, the NSA has private information from millions of people, all that information can be stolen and retrieved and that person could have the power to send it to another country that dislikes the U.S. Once another country or specifically someone has it, who knows what disaster could unfold with all the sensitive information.The NSA is violating the constitution, specifically the fourth amendment, they have yet to successfully stop a terrorist attack, they’ve spied on other countries causing tension, and it can be unsecured collected data. The Nation Security Agency clearly shouldn’t have the right to spy on people without their consent, as previously stated, it is unconstitutional. Once they collect the data it can be unsecured and hacked by other countries while causing tension with other nations because they don’t want to be spied on in the first place. Quite Frankly, it is ridiculous that the NSA cannot provide an estimate of the amount of people they spy and yet have data that is not secured.Until then, the NSA is still spying on people unrightfully.