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The Legality Of The Nsa Essay

1215 words - 5 pages

After the disclosures by Edward Snowden turned a critical eye to the NSA many people questioned the legality of the acts. The NSA claimed that their work was legal and had prevented many terrorist plots. However, evidence of only four plots was ever found. Even if the acts were founded in law, they still angered large numbers of citizens. Many citizens do not care if the spying is legal, believing that it is morally wrong. Government surveillance organizations have grown to be extremely powerful and are capable of accessing large swaths of personal information; these abilities intrude into the private lives of citizens and need to be curtailed.
The NSA collects information via various means. ...view middle of the document...

These service providers are: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. When revealed, each of the companies stated profusely that they had in no way permitted this access and they only complied with legal orders to release information. With this information at hand, consumer trust in the companies dropped significantly; most notably overseas where the NSA has fewer restrictions on what information could not be taken about individuals. This is just a dragnet, a collection of basic information on everybody. If they have a suspect, then they are more specific in their search. In a search for possible associates that might provide information about possible plots the NSA can search three “jumps”, or degrees of separation, from the target. This means that a friend of a friend of a friend of a target can be spied on more so than the usual dragnet approach. This may seem like a relatively small quantity at first, but considering that the average Facebook user has 190 friends, 16% of which are friends with each other, from one subject it is possible that over 5 million individuals can be spied on from one individual. Even a subject having just one friend or associate can result in over 26 thousand individuals being the subject of spying efforts. Of course, there are more ways to retrieve personal information than just phone records and Facebook profiles. The NSA can access any and all e-mail transmissions, the audio and video from services such as Skype, and documents saved on cloud storage services. Cars often have black boxes which record information such as speed, acceleration, and RPM. With the creation of new vehicles containing powerful computers, these black boxes are being designed to collect even more information, including the vehicle’s location. Even a house’s electrical system is monitored and able to be controlled remotely. Electric meters that required an individual to manually record energy usage have, for the most part, been phased out and have instead been replaced with wireless meters that transmit information to the provider via short microwave bursts. The power meters are also capable of receiving data and affecting the flow of electricity. Though not related to the NSA spying, this control can be used to unwillingly force individuals into accepting less power at peak consumption times and into taking part in “green initiatives” that they may not agree with. With the information that the NSA has access to, and can have access to, they can create large dossiers on individuals involving their habits, activities, locations, and the times involved with all these events. Having this information at their disposal...

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