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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Thoughts on Government Surveillance


[one_third]LiberalQuratulain Malik

Every person in the United States has the right to privacy, and that constitutional right extends beyond the reach of the government.

Surveillance is wrong, collecting data on people without their knowledge is wrong. However, recent surveillance methods and reasons are not harmful to individuals. In fact, this everyday surveillance is taking care of the citizens of this country. Surveillance to help combat terrorism, threats, and malicious acts are not impeding on your right to privacy.

Knowledge is extremely accessible in this day and age, and the government is absolutely right to access your technology to protect you. There is real evidence that the National Security Administration’s (NSA) surveillance has helped to combat possible terrorist plans. This surveillance is hardly an intrusion on your private life – it is really just a check on people who may be dangerous.

Personal privacy is important, but at what cost? What important information are we giving up protecting this personal freedom? How many lives are we giving up? Does your right to stream the web anonymously overpower criminal justice? These are really the questions we should be asking ourselves before we take a negative stance on what the NSA does.

[one_third]IndependentCarmel Rafalowsky 

I want to begin by saying that I absolutely understand why government surveillance exists. I am old enough to remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and how terrified everyone was—not only on that day, but for months afterward. With terrorism and the protection of a country’s civilians in mind, I completely understand the point of government surveillance.

That said, I personally am against widespread government surveillance. I do not support warrantless wiretaps, data mining, or in-depth domestic surveillance, because I feel that this gathering of data is often baseless. I also believe that when agencies such as the NSA surveil and gather data on everyone regardless of background, that they overwhelm themselves with information and data to sift through. I think this then increases the likelihood of missing critical information on a terrorist or attack. I understand that usually algorithms are the mechanisms behind this sifting, but algorithms are only as effective and efficient as the people who write and program them.

When I tell people I am against government surveillance, the usual retort is, “Why do you care if you do not have anything to hide?” And the answer is quite simply because I do not believe it is any of their business. As long as I am not putting myself or others in jeopardy, I feel that I have a right to privacy—and I do not think it is radical or extreme to feel that way.

[one_third]ConservativeAdrian Wong

Surveillance is an incredibly complex issue. Citizens are not privy to much of the information regarding it. A huge amount of the information that is known comes from the 2012 Edward Snowden leaks. Snowden revealed that the NSA was spying on various foreign leaders and that the NSA could surveil anyone within three degrees of separation of a suspect.

The NSA also was reported to have tapped into fiber optic cables for metadata collection, and to have a program named “PRISM” where leading tech companies would share data to the NSA. Former NSA director, Keith Alexander, initially claimed that these programs stopped 54 terrorist plots, only to be challenged by ProPublica who argued that only four plots were prevented. Eventually, deputy director, John Inglis, admitted that only one plot “might” have been thwarted using the bulk phone records program. Between the NSA and the Patriot Act, the government collects an enormous amount of data, yet it is still incredibly difficult to thwart a terrorist plot.

If the NSA is going to admit that they cannot effectively use this data to stop crime, they should not be entitled to view it. They should only be able to collect data from suspected terrorists and individuals within one degree of separation from the target. There is no reason why millions of law-abiding Americans should have their private information recorded by the NSA. If the NSA is not effective, the time and tax dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

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