One of the things that have been troubling me lately, is whether the government can achieve security goals using less intrusive means that will not trample on our democratic freedoms and rights as American citizens.
Although the White House and National Security Council has said little about it, as Americans we feel that something is wrong somewhere.
The act of collecting information on every telephone conversation we make and emails we send alters the good relationship we had with the government.
By tracking who we call, how long we speak to our friends, business partners and other people as well as our location, reveals our personal information. With these data, nothing will prevent the government from discovering intimate details about our lives. In simple words, you can no long keep your political leanings, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and medical issues private. I think the meaning of democracy has changed.
The constant government monitoring taking place undermines all the constitutional principles as far as personal privacy and free is concerned. This had led to bodies such as The American Civil Liberties Union to file lawsuits with the aim of challenging the program because they know how we feel about our privacy.
According to my little knowledge, in any democratic country citizens are entitled to know each of the techniques used by the government in power to spy on them. The same citizens should know how and how long the government will hold their records. In addition, it has to make it clear who will access the same records during that time.
Despite the fact that government is doing all the best to fight rise of terrorism, it should also remember to preserve the liberty of American citizens and foreigners as well. Most Americans have not recognized the dangers of the steps NSA is taking because of the lack of information that they can use in judging the conduct of the current government over the same. Even if some of us trust the President with our personal data, we are not certain about the person who will access the same information in future. This gives us more reasons to cry out loudly.
How does NSA surveillance threaten our privacy in our everyday lives?
Procedures allow NSA to monitor all international communications made by American citizens
Although the president and other leaders have maintained that NSA has not been listening to our phone calls as well as monitoring our emails, the truth might be different. The FISA amendment act permits NSA to monitor foreigners abroad but the same act permits the government to record all communications we make with foreigners.
Initially, the government argued that its target was the one end domestic kind of communications that made them to come up with this act. To make matters even worse, NSA does not only record the communication but also goes ahead to retain them. Once retained, chances are that it will disseminate the same information to other agencies and foreign governments. According to sources, NSA is designing a data with many our international calls and emails, something the government has denied.
Procedures allow the government to do surveillance even when there is no connection with intelligence interestsOne of the shortcomings of these procedures is that they permit the government to do surveillance even when there is nothing suspicious. In other words, it allows NSA to spy on people who are not suspected of wrong doing. Why would you spy on someone without any information that he or she is a wrong doer? Even if it means gathering foreign intelligence information, we believe there is a way the government can do this without stepping on our toes.
Procedures allow NSA to gather international calls and emails in bulk
Even before we say anything, from this statement, it is clear that the government can do dragnet surveillance and not just spying on a few individuals who might be doing wrong. While the government’s main intention is to identify the target, the procedures allow it to sweep up any communication made by anyone about the target in question.
NSA can retain domestic communications as well as foreign communications
In the process of collecting information, errors are likely to occur. In the event of over collection, NSA should purge all domestic communication from their database, which does not happen. Instead, NSA keeps and analyses the same information.
NSA has permission to maintain knowledge databases
Knowledge databases mainly contain sensitive information about the American citizens. The database has data on online activities, email addresses as well as numerous telephone contacts. However, the procedures do not say anything about the limits that should apply when it comes to safeguarding data or how to protect the rights of the American citizen.
NSA can retain any encrypted details/information indefinitely
The government has permission to monitor and retain any encrypted information for a lifetime or as long as it wants, which does not exclude the purely domestic communication. This implies that you would have lost your privacy completely once NSA decides to do this. Data encryption is very common in health care providers, financial organizations and real time communication services among others.
NSA can collect, retain and disseminate attorney client communications
Procedures allow NSA to access, retain and even disseminate any communication that takes place between the attorney and his or her client. In general, attorney-client communications no longer have any special form of protection. Today, NSA can acquire any information from lawyers including those representing military officers jailed at Guantanamo and share with any other government agency.
In conclusion, it is perturbing to realize that NSA can get any information from us, retain and even disseminate the same to other agencies and governments. Although the government keeps assuring us that NSA does not monitor our emails and phone calls, this is not true. With the procedures in place, you cannot keep anything as a secret from NSA now that personal liberty is losing meaning in the United States of America and the world at large.
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As I write this, crypto security is looking more and more under threat, as governments around the world get better and better at decrypting things and monitoring everything. People are both soft and strong. I heard that on TV. Does that mean something to people of the world who are losing their freedom? NO. That means nothing.
Prime numbers, particularly huge ones, and huge binary keys, are maybe not going to be good enough in the end, when quantum computing is applied to the code breaking problem. Whoever develops working quantum computing is probably going to keep it a secret for a long time. It wouldn’t surprise me to eventually learn that it already is in use, somewhere. Maybe nothing can be secret anymore.
And then there’s the ability to look forward or back in time, afforded by quantum communication over distances of light years. That’s a separate story.