Edward Snowden: Surveillance and Internet Freedom

Before I begin rambling my thoughts about Ed Snowden and his actions, I should forewarn my readers that this post will be utterly adorned with nothing but positive opinions about him because quite frankly, I believe Snowden is a hero.

When Edward Snowden leaked classified data from the NSA it was not an act of betrayal to America. It was the exact opposite. Snowden is one of the most perfect examples of true patriotism, in that he has the public’s interest in mind and this is why I fully back his decision to leak information on the NSA’s overreach in the surveillance of the American public. Interestingly, Snowden iterates exactly what we have been learning throughout this course: the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of the press, and that we should have “an adversarial press to challenge the government and also work with it.” It is a fact that the NSA is deliberately violating the Constitution and our privacy. The decision and act should not have been made without the consent of the public. As a basic human right, we all deserve to have options.

The NSA’s justification for domestic surveillance is national security and terrorism, but Snowden says this is not true and no threats have materialized from their snooping. One of the reasons that the NSA has grown in power is because no one is looking over their shoulder and regulating them, which only hands them the freedom to do as they please. They should not be able to spy on every American citizen going about their daily lives. It has unfortunately become too easy to intrude on the lives of average Americans, and to do so is a threat to democracy because in losing our privacy we lose the right to have open discussions on many important things we agree and disagree with. We are being stripped of our agency, our freedom to express what we think, and if this continues we will lose our freedom of speech and freedom altogether. This is not only a threat to the U.S., but to democratic countries across the globe.  There must be a way to have open government without having our civil liberties infringed upon. We have every right to a private life and a right to know what the government is up to, namely when it comes to a situation such as this.

All of the aforementioned mostly applies to the internet, telephone calls, and text messages because in this information age, they are both a window to, and storage for the lives of its users. It is frightening and appalling that the government has access to intimate phone calls, emails, and photos that have been shared online. They can also see what we purchase, where we go, who we are with and so on. Personal communications should not be intercepted. This sort of data should remain private and investigations should be based on probable cause and individualized suspicion, as Snowden points out. It only makes sense. In addition, the internet contains a mountain of information we can use to educate ourselves, but under the NSA’s watch, our searches can be misinterpreted as something nefarious. For those who are writers or creators in any capacity, this can limit our research and intellectual exploration of our work. Honestly, my search history would horrify anyone who isn’t one of my writer friends.

Snowden’s suggested solution that “companies need to work very hard to guarantee represent the user and advocate for their rights”, is on point, but on that same note we, the average hard-working citizen, need to advocate for our rights as well. There are unfortunately many Americans who are not in the know about our government and what they are doing for various reasons, including disinterest, therefore a vast majority of the populace don’t speak up, but this sort of knowledge is imperative if we want to have the freedoms we were originally granted and deserve.

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