Hi, all.Your readings for this module are about some of the most timely and sensitive issues of the day, all related to privacy one way or another — encryption, metadata, NSA spying, and more! Much of the “abuses” of our individual privacy — and civil rights, many would argue — are in order to protect us. So what about that? Do we want the government breaking the rules in order to take care of us? Why not just change the rules openly so that the government can spy on us and we all know about it? Are we really surprised that the government is taking such steps? If there was an attack and we found that the government had not done everything possible to protect us, what would the fallout be? Obviously, there are a lot of directions in which to take this and lots of room for divergent ideas!
So, let’s share some ideas on this, and bring the discussion to a close by the end of Week 9.
‘ll start us off with the often divisive topic of the NSA and Edward Snowden. The US government was spying on its people. No way to really sugar coat that the PRISM surveillance system was gathering information on citizens from Google, Verizon, Microsoft, Facebook, and YouTube. Without Snowden releasing the information to reporters, we may have never really known the extent of the program. For that, I’m thankful for what Snowden did for us as fellow citizens. However, there’s the other side of the coin. As someone that proudly wore an Army uniform for 9 years, I despise him and Chelsea Manning as traitors. As you can see, I’m very conflicted about Snowden and Manning. I’m torn between wanting to know what my government is really doing and believing in a code of ethics in the military or society. In state elections, we often vote on referendums to our state constitutions. For example, last year in Florida we voted to return voting rights to residents with prior felony convictions. I wish the national government operated on a similar playing field. Instead we have to wait for cases of our privacy being violated to make their way through the court systems before they are decided to be Constitutional or not. The government should have to operate at a higher visibility when it comes to the privacy of citizens. We need a Constitutional Amendment granting us the right to digital privacy.
There is no doubt that Snowden and Manning were entirely traitors. There is no way to justify what they did. In the case of Snowden, many claim that he did U.S. citizens a favor by exposing the PRISM program. What he actually did was expose the identities and other information that lead to the deaths of many involved in our nation’s national security. He caused exceptionally grave damage to our national security for absolutely nothing. If you look at the FAA & FISA laws, it shows that the NSA has never been legally able to use U.S. citizen information and for obvious reasons would have no use for it. The FBI is for surveillance of U.S. citizens who are a threat, whereas the NSA cares about foreigners. Moreover, for any possible concerns that either had, there are safe, and more importantly, legal ways for them to report this without leaking classified information. That is what the whistleblower protection act is for, and neither qualify, because they stole information and provided it to terrorists.
For those who are concerned about their privacy information collected by providers and to whom has access (as we all should be), then read the privacy agreements. It describes what information is collected and what will be released and to whom, yet many simply check the box and move on without any consideration. This includes services provided by other countries, many technology products and services are made by foreign countries and collect personal information that is then provided to government- e.g. Huawei, gaming sites, etc. Below are a couple of articles on Huawei for those interested.
Garver, R. (2019, March 18). US Wages Wide-Ranging Campaign to Block Huawei. Retrieved from VOA: https://www.voanews.com/a/us-wages-wide-ranging-ca…
Mullen, J., & Byers, D. (2018, June 6). Facebook says it gave Huawei and other Chinese firms access to user data. Retrieved from CNN: https://money.cnn.com/2018/06/05/technology/facebo…