Student Voices : Government Surveillance and Edward Snowden

The root of the problem is not that the government needs to collect communication data, the problem here is that the means by which it is being done. Secret warrants are being issued and information is being collected from companies about us which they should not be collecting in the first place.

I was shocked when I first heard about the revelations. Everything you have shared and trusted with any service on the Internet could be revealed. Also the idea that NSA has been keeping track everything that I have been doing is just a horrifying one. All this while, I thought my information is limited to me and the ones I share with, but who could have imagined that NSA has been looking over us all this time? If we can not trust our government to do the right thing, who can we trust?

People might say that they don’t care about them being spied on because they haven’t done anything wrong and their data could possibly not hurt them, but the whole idea is that maybe it is not important now but after a few years if a person becomes a person of interest for the government all the data collected about that person could and will be used against that person.

Barrack Obama, the US president after the revelations stated that “You cannot have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience”. He is not wrong here, but then again he is not correct as well. We are being offered 0% privacy here. He did not take an oath to provide US citizens with 100 % security, but he definitely did take an oath to protect and defend the constitution, which also includes the fourth amendment, which states that:

“
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
One might argue that continuous government surveillance is required to keep us safe and also for national security, but who can guarantee that this information won’t be used for any other purposes ? Does the government delete the data once it finds it irrelevant ? NO, because for them it might be relevant in the future. To some extent I agree that surveillance is needed on suspects, but surveillance on all citizens without them knowing and by keeping them in the dark is not the way to go. These revelations and the PRISM program directly violate the 4th amendment of the US constitution, and unless these rights are not revisited and modified, no politician can take away these rights of the people.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”
–C.S. Lewis

I consider Edward Snowden an American hero of the highest order. I would let him stay in my house if I could. Some might say that he is a traitor and broke the oath he took to protect classified information and should be punished to the full extent of law. If we think about it, his leaks has made United States a safer nation. The politician swore oaths to defend the constitution as well. They should be prosecuted as well then, shouldn’t they? The politicians who lied to the whole nation about transparency and their practices are the same leaders who are demanding to imprison him. Edward Snowden’s heroics have put the government on guard and forced them to tread a careful path from now on.

Edward Snowden’s actions are fully justified from my side even though he has broken the law, but then again he is not the only one who broke the laws ?

  Let’s see what his intentions could have been.

Snowden had a $200k job in Hawaii and was living with his girlfriend.
He knew he was up against the most powerful and influential government. He knew he was sacrificing his life and putting his family in danger.

  He was not in pursuit of profit nor did want to help the terrorists.

  He stood for the ideals and interests that every Human shares.

  If I was in his shoes and had enough courage, I would have done the same…