Professor Scott Wade
October 13, 2014
Should there be a balance between what the government can see and what they cannot? Are you wondering what the government can see and what they cannot? The answer is “Each time a resident of the United States makes a phone call, the NSA records whom she called, when the call was placed, and how long the conversation lasted” (American civil..union). Phone calls are not the only thing that the NSA is monitoring. E-mails, text messages, Google searches, and many more are no longer private. A man named Edward Snowden is helping the citizens of the U.S. become aware of how much the government is watching us. “Snowden is a former NSA subcontractor. After only three months, Snowden began collecting top-secret documents regarding NSA domestic surveillance practices, which he found disturbing” (bio.com). After fleeing the country and releasing information about the NSA spying on us, he is the most wanted man in the world. This man is looked upon as a villain, but I believe he is a hero. He is standing up for our country and the people in it. If the fourth amendment secures our right to privacy, then why would the NSA go against it? What is being done in the privacy of our home is nobody else’s business, including the government. Having our privacy invaded without our control, is unfair. A balance between what our government can see, and what they cannot should be established.
The article “Panopticism” (Foucault), describes a hypothetical prison where the cellmates are put into a cell where they cannot see anyone around them, nor the guard who is watching. The guard who sits up in the tower can watch the cellmates, but the cellmates cannot see the guard. Also they do not know when they are being watched. This article is similar to how the government watches us. They can spy on us without us having the ability to see them, nor do we know when they are watching. This strategy may result in good behavior, but is only beneficial in public situations. We are not only being monitored in public, we are being watched through the cameras in our computer, through our cellphones, and by every technological move we make. A recent article “What is Prism?” (Gizmodo) explains how Prism is a secret government program that is supposed to monitor foreign communications on public servers, but instead monitors our everyday online activity. It states that websites such as Google, YouTube, Skype, and others, have given FBI access to their servers. The information is then relayed to the NSA. If we are unwillingly going to be spied on, the government should let us know when, and what they are watching. Public surveillance is a very important thing to have in today’s society. Having cameras in stores prevents thieves from stealing, cameras in other public places such as subways, railroad stations, on the road, and many more can help crime be solved. Without public surveillance, the Boston Bombers may have never been caught. Because of the public cameras, police were able to see who caused this tragedy and they were caught by the end of that day. Another way public surveillance is beneficial is because it can result in good behavior. If a camera was put inside a classroom, students wouldn’t disobey their teachers. Just like the students, Americans would be on their best behavior knowing they are being watched. Public surveillance is a great thing to have, but surveillance in homes or any private place should not be allowed. We are never truly alone in our homes due to the fact that we can be watched through the webcams on our computers and cellphones. The NSA can also hack into the microphones in our computers and listen in to our conversations. Security cameras in homes can be watched by the owner, and most likely can also be seen by the government. There is no need for the government to be watching us through our own devices. They should be stopped, but unfortunately that will not