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Government Surveillance Makes U.S. Citizens Uncomfortable

897 words - 4 pages

The government’s use of surveillance and metadata collection has greatly increased since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Many Americans feel that this increase in surveillance is violating their privacy rights and the Constitution. The government can, and should, do everything it can to protect the lives and freedoms of its citizens. The National Security Agency is not violating the Constitution by electronically collecting information from American citizens, and the data collection is necessary to keep Americans safe by preventing future terrorist attacks.
Many Americans are uncomfortable with the fact that the government can access their personal phone records and other electronic information, but some privacy needs to be sacrificed to save the lives of others. The NSA has successfully prevented over 50 terrorist attacks since 9/11 due to the new surveillance technology being applied (Sullivan). The NSA tracks the location telephone calls were made from, who was being contacted, and the duration of the call (Mukasey). However, this information is just being collected, and not analyzed (Mukasey). When someone contacts a know terrorist organization, or if there is reasonable suspicion that a person is tied to a terrorist plot, the NSA just has to look in its database to find the information it needs to prevent the attack (Turner). If the NSA did not have a database that stored these phone records, terrorist organizations would not be able to be stopped and identified as efficiently. Since the government only uses this information to stop terrorist plots, innocent Americans should have nothing to fear, or hide, by letting the government access their phone records. If giving up some personal information is what it takes to prevent the deaths of American people, then citizens should be obligated to do so.
Some people argue that the NSA’s use of metadata collection is unconstitutional, and violates the Fourth Amendment. The Constitution only protects against “unreasonable” searches without probable cause (US Const. amend. IV.). In order to authorize a search on a particular individual, NSA analysts need to have a reasonable suspicion that there is a connection to a foreign terrorist organization (Turner). It is hard for some determine what defines a search as unreasonable. If conducting a search could potentially save lives, then it should be labeled reasonable. In some cases involving “special needs” the Supreme Court has authorized warrantless searches on American citizens (Turner). Another, more common, type of warrantless search can be found in airports (Turner). TSA officers search flight passengers for the same reason the NSA searches electronic information, to prevent terror plots. People comply with the TSA searching their luggage because after experiencing the 9/11 attacks they are aware of how crucial these...

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