With such great advances in science, things such as the Internet have become very intertwined with our daily lives. We find ourselves using technology more and more as the year’s progress, we become more and more dependent on it. Texting, calling, web surfing, T.V, gaming systems, are all ways we communicate with each other in the modern era.  All of these new innovative ways to stay connected with each other have changed the way we socialize and how we view the world around us. Even with all of these positive changes, we must be aware of the true power the government holds controlling all of this information, and though you may feel you have nothing to hide; there might be some aspects of your life that you don’t want your government to know.

Jordan: I’m all about protecting the people of our country from foreign threats but I must say what I’ve been seeing in the news has really got me thinking about the decisions are government officials are making, and how completely oblivious everyone is to it.  I think we mistake questioning the actions of the government as some kind of act terrorism, or disloyal to your country.  There must be a time where we as people stop and ask ourselves how much are we sacrificing in order to feel protected? There should be some things our government doesn’t know about us.

Andrew: The snooping of emails is nothing. Has anyone else noticed how specific and tailored ads on the internet are to you as an individual? Now, I’m a saxophone player, and some days I like to YouTube myself some Charlie Parker and Google some $8,000 saxophones and just dream of a day I might be able to afford a Selmer Mark VI alto sax. Now, after these sessions of lusting after saxophones, it’s not uncommon for me to get ads about saxophones, or reeds for my saxophone, or mouthpieces or what have you. I’m willing to bet most of you reading this have never seen an ad online for a saxophone ever, while I do. How do they know though? Well, it’s simple; Google “reads” our emails. And by “read” they really mean search for keywords to sell to advertisers to make money, it’s what email providers do, and most people don’t have a problem with it. Now if we compare that to what the NSA has been doing, it really can’t be much different. There’s no way to read a countries worth of emails, so key word searches would be essential, and computers processing information in my emails doesn’t exactly feel very intrusive to me.

A lot of attention is being drawn to all the things the government snoops on that they don’t have any business snooping on, but what about the information the government might not be allowed to disclose that has helped protect the people and ultimately save lives. Now, I’m not a nudist, and I keep blinds on my window, so don’t get me wrong, I like my privacy, but I understand that in order to keep a larger group of people safe like the government does, they might have to look through a lot of people’s emails. For the safety of others in this country, if I was one of those people that the NSA looked at, I can’t say I really mind, it doesn’t bother me. For example, imagine if there were emails sent about 9/11 between the people in the United States and the people they’re working for back at al-Qaida. Imagine if that event could have been stopped by catching some of those emails and taking action against them, surely people would be willing to give away some of their online privacy to be able to prevent that tragedy.

Jordan: True, terrorism is a very real thing; there are groups of individuals that try to harm innocent people for the sake of their greater good. And yes, we have had history have attacks on us such as 9/11, World Trade Center bombing, Boston Bombing, I will not deny that. But when you look at the consistency of these attacks you will see that they are not often, or common. But there has been a steady increase of National securities annually every year since the first of the attacks, and now they watch for “terrorism” has made its way into your house, school, and workplace, anywhere with accessible electronics or cameras.  Everyone is a suspected target, and I don’t know about you but that makes me feel uncomfortable, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Your cell phone information is constantly taken, record, and stored in huge databases by the NSA.  Every conversation you have had between whomever this year has been recorded and is accessible at any moment by the government.

Andrew: Think about the last conversation you had through texting. Maybe you are one of those people who talk about juicy gossip to your friends. Maybe you had a very serious conversation with your significant other. Or maybe it was just texting your friend asking them where they are because they are late to lunch. What’s it matter if someone were to read those texts? Now imagine maybe the most serious conversation you’ve ever had on the phone or through Skype or even through text. So what, there is someone in some room in some building, the likes of whom you will probably never know, or never see. This person has no idea who you are, and wouldn’t even know you if he ran into you on the street. This person you statistically will never know, is reading you’re texts or listening to your phone calls. This doesn’t really cause me to feel invaded, especially if it is being used for the good of the people. I feel like the only person who should be bothered by this are people who have something to hide, and if you aren’t one of those people, I don’t see why you’d be concerned. If you are one of those people, I would throw away your cell phone, as that’s being traced, but again if you’re not, I don’t know why this news would make you feel anything but safe.

Jordan: Im sure people have heard that they NSA and other agencies have been storing there information for a few years now, but I fear that they lack the full understanding of how much they are being monitored.  And even with the small bit of information the average person has about the NSA, most people do not like the idea of their personal information being viewed and store by domestic and foreign intelligence. They find it too be very intrusive, and feel that even though they have nothing to hide they should have a right to some privacy just to themselves. 54% of people believe that their government is intruding them on, but many of them do believe it is justified. I am okay with it to an extent but when it completely undermines the basic freedoms of our nation, I feel compelled to at least want to know what they are doing with this information.  If that makes me come off as radical, I’m sorry, but I just believe we should be asking more questions.

Edward Snowden
Picture of Edward Snowden

What do you do with all that information? Take a look at the people that have spoken out about the over-extension of surveillance capabilities by the government, that have worked within those agencies that are doing the surveillance themselves.  Take Edward Snowden for example, he worked for the NSA and spoke out against them, saying that what they were doing was indeed unlawful and unconstitutional. The information he provided came as a surprise to most people, as it should, because almost everyone had no idea their government even possessed such power.  Now it had became clear to everyone that internet websites such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and Microsoft have been releasing our information to the government for years. Though when confronted with this they all deny it of course, but the evidence is clear. The American people are being lied to about where their information such as health, financial, etc. are being sent and stored. Why would the government lie to us about that?

Andrew: Technology is rapidly changing and life as we know it is so different from that of even just 10 years ago. I do not support the way the NSA went about retrieving information, in private, without any input from the public. The NSA already has a showed that a government operation running in complete secrecy can’t be trusted (as they broke the rules they themselves set). Flat out an agency that is run in top secret that directly involves the American public should not exist. However, if the NSA would have just come right out and released a statement when they started that they are going to be monitoring online interactions closer for the better of the American public, I don’t believe there would have been as negative of a reaction. If in the future, now that we as a public know what the NSA is doing, we can better keep track of them, and vote in officials who will help keep the NSA’s power in check with the American public’s liking.

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