Ever originally authorized by President Bush on October
Ever think that your personal information has been collected and looked through by your very own government? The National Security Agency (NSA) has been doing this on a massive scale, and has been doing it for years. It’s even more surprising to find out how little has been done to stop this, and how much has been hidden from the American people until it was leaked by one of the NSA’s own, Edward Snowden. It is still unknown all the different types of information the NSA collects, but it has been revealed that obscene amounts of internet traffic data has been intercepted by the NSA. There is an abundance of supervisions and lawsuits that should be put in place to monitor the unconstitutional violation of privacy.The National Security Agency, has come under growing observation by the American people since 2013, since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden illegally leaked an abundance of documents revealing the massive violation of American privacy the NSA has been committing. The NSA keeps a record of most calls made in the United States, including who is making and receiving the call, and the duration of the call. (“NSA Routinely” 2017).These mass data collections programs the NSA has been using were originally authorized by President Bush on October 4, 2001. Those program collected tremendous amounts of data for years, but in March 2004, a Justice Department review found that the bulk Internet metadata program was illegal. (“NSA Routinely” 2017). President Bush signed an order to re-authorize it anyway, in an extreme effort to eliminate terrorism. In response, several top Justice Department officials threatened to resign, and the Internet metadata program was suspended for several months. (“Privacy in” 2014). Then, again in 2007, all aspects of the program were re-authorized by secret court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. (“NSA Admits” 2013). Edward Snowden has leaked over seven thousand documents to the media since 2013. (“NSA Routinely” 2017). One of the first documents released revealed that the US Supreme Court authorized a top-secret court order that allowed the United States government to collect and retain all telephone metadata from every Verizon customer in the United States. This means that several billion calls’ metadata is collected every single day. (“Supreme Court,” 2013). Metadata is a record of calls, including who is making and receiving the call, and the duration of the call. The NSA then has a record of every single person that you’ve called in the last few years. (“Supreme Court,” 2013). There is no reasonable way to put it, under no circumstances does the NSA need access to every single Verizon customer’s telephone metadata. This gives an unjust power over the people of the United States of America.Marc Rotenberg, president of EPIC, stated that the Supreme Court “exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation.” (“NSA Surveillance,” 2013). Although it is clear that what the NSA is doing is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court declined an appeal without comment from Rotenberg’s privacy company, where they asserted that the federal court illegally authorized domestic surveillance programs, (“Supreme Court,” 2013). The Supreme Court reasoned that you have no expectation of privacy of the information, because you share that information with the phone company for billing purposes, and therefore the Fourth Amendment is not implicated by government collection of that information. (“Privacy in Digital”, 2014). “Why should the fact that the government is collecting that data on every American, combining them with everyone else’s data and searching them, change the equation?” (“Privacy in Digital”, 2014). Even though you share your information with the phone company, no one is expecting the company to look through your personal data. Let alone, the government then collecting that personal data, and using it without your knowledge. There have been newly declassified documents that show violation in American privacy. (“NSA Admits”, 2013). Massive amounts of internet data recorded using the NSA’s “XKEYSCORE” software, analysts have the ability to see emails, social media posts, web sites visited, files sent, and even have the ability to access your webcam and watch you through your camera. (“NSA Spying,” 2014). Since there is no reliable way to separate foreign and domestic communications, the program collects U.S. citizens’ domestic internet activity. (“Privacy In Digital”, 2014). National Security Agency Analysts’ even have the option to request specific private data from technology companies such as Facebook and Google, and Skype. (“NSA Surveillance”, 2013). How has the NSA been able to get away with unconstitutionally violating the American people’s privacy for so long? The first issue is that the National Security Agency gets to interpret its own rules. “The agency has historically interpreted the prohibition against targeting Americans to mean that as long as 51 percent of the data collection is foreign, the 49 percent of data that is domestic is fair game” (“NSA Surveillance,” 2013). So as long as they are collecting a majority of foreign intelligence, all of the domestic intelligence collected is okay. Even the foreign data collected is interfering with American businesses. Other countries don’t trust the United States to do business anymore because of the extreme spying that the government is doing on domestic and foreign grounds. “In China, where IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and, most notably, Cisco Systems have reported substantial drops in sales since the NSA surveillance program came to light.” (“NSA Spying”, 2014). “IBM last month reported a 22% decline in revenue from China, which contributed to a 4% drop in the company’s quarterly profit.Hewlett-Packard said all its businesses in China had year-over-year sales drops. All this happened as China’s economy grew almost 8% in the third quarter.” (“NSA Spying,” 2014). China believes that United States technology companies are helping the American government spy on them, and sales are continually going to drop, and the numbers are showing that China and other economies across the world are punishing these American companies for the National Security Agencies actions. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, authorized to oversee surveillance requests, first learned in 2011 of problems involving “upstream collection”, (“NSA Admits”, 2013). There needs to be revisions on how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court operates. The U.S. District Judge John Bates, who was then the court’s chief judge, stated that the “volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe.” (“NSA Admits”, 2013). Bates states how the NSA’s disclosures about its e-mail collection effort “fundamentally alters the court’s understanding of the scope of the collection and requires careful re-examination of many of the assessments and presumptions underlying prior approvals.” (“NSA Admits”, 2013). Bates then blew up over the fact that the National Security Agency interfered with and mishandled thousands of American emails over the years. (“NSA Admits”, 2013). The NSA has been manipulative of the understanding that the court has. They have an extreme power and ability, and with all of the funding and great minds they have access to, it doesn’t seem that they hold back on using that power to the full extent, even if it is illegal. These revelations finally coming to light only mean that there needs to be more checks and balances put into the agency, to prevent them from violating the constitution. FISA’s understanding has been manipulated by the NSA into thinking that they were operating on a totally different level than what they actually were. Provisions need to be made to the way that the intelligence community is overseen more by the court, and perhaps other government institutions. “The NSA’s domestic surveillance program has been found to violate legal standards on more than one occasion.” (“NSA Surveillance” 2013). This is only a small portion of what unconstitutional practices could be taking place. The FISA court system needs certain reforms to ensure that this will never happen again. The American people have entrusted the U.S. government with their privacy, and this has been a disgusting display of constitutional violations. In 2011, the FISA court ruled that the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment at least once. This ruling has not yet been released by the Justice Department, though the FISA court decided it could be. (“NSA Admits”, 2013). Several civil liberties groups have filed lawsuits against the NSA, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who charged them with “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance”. (“NSA Admits”, 2013).The American people should not be allowing this to happen. The FISA needs to be more aggressive in the overseeing of the NSA. There needs to be more awareness of the massive internet, and telephone data intercepted by the NSA, how deep that data can be collected, and using that information without your knowledge. There have been several actions already taken place against the NSA, such as lawsuits, but further action needs to be taken sooner. Stand up for your freedoms, and take a stand on your privacy being intercepted, by your very own United States government.