Big Brother goes too far

Torrey Spoerer

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Before an American makes a post on their Facebook wall, they may have to consider how the material of the post would look in the eyes of Big Brother.

The National Security Agency is an American government program that potentially listens into a majority of national (and international-to-America-connected) phone calls and looks up topics of interest on social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter and various independent message board forums.

The agency gained power and momentum after the events of 9/11 created a sensationalist swerve in the modern American’s attitude towards national security. The Patriot Act was therefore instated by the George Bush Jr. Administration, boasting the government’s promise that any spying and profiling done whatsoever would be significantly limited to highly-threatening potential acts of terrorism and that such information gathering would be only decrypted with a legal warrant.

Under the 1994-passed Communications Assistance act for Law Enforcement act instated, the NSA also easily has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Pal Talk and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.

On June 9 of this year, the Guardian News made public to the world the source of one of history’s most significant classified-document leaks. 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a national-security contractor from Hawaii, revealed that he informed public audiences about the wide scale abuse of authority perpetrated by the agency.

According to the authenticated documents that were provided by Snowden, the NSA frequently intercepts the telephone calls and internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism, foreign politics, economics and even “commercial secrets”.

A specific unit of the agency locates CIA targets for extrajudicial assassinations in the Middle East. The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.

After Snowden took asylum in Hong Kong and got his passport annulled in Russia, Americans had become much more weary of what they posted, who they made calls to, and what they said in any phone calls that were made. Privacy may have not been such a trending topic before its explosive exposure to the mass media. Now, however, it is one of the biggest issues in media as of present day.

To some, these interventions on mass communication are of significant help to preventing mass terrorism on U.S. soil. To many others, on the flip side of the coin, America is beginning to live a repeat of the Cold War era.

If matters didn’t already seem quite controversial then, they’re about to already look a lot worse. Because this year, Andrew Weismann, the current FBI general counsel, expressed to the public that the bureau wants to more extensively wiretap all forms of Internet communication in real literal time, such as Skype, Gmail, and Drop Box, which are already under directed watch of the government.

These expansions of power do not exclude any ability of the bureau to spy on every – and any – American citizen.

Recent numerous allegations of the U.S. wiretapping numerous European Union politicians has also sparked conversation for whether or not the United States should roll back its surveillance programs and potential repercussions of continuing such behavior.

Good. Because until a clear line is drawn in the sandbox of individual rights, the conditions of mass media will become further disturbing, translucent, and dangerous to the freedom of speech.

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