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Internet Surveillance Essay

1548 words - 7 pages

Contrary to what many people may think, online private data and cellphone meta-data is susceptible to snooping by not only government agencies and corporations, but also hackers willing to risk a prison sentence. In 2013, NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden revealed previously unknown details of global surveillance programs run by the United States' NSA in close cooperation with three partners: Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The documents leaked by Mr. Snowden revealed details about the NSA secretly tapping into Yahoo and Google data centers to collect information from millions of accounts worldwide. The shocking evidenced released by Mr. Snowden reveals that lawmakers and ...view middle of the document...

As computers become have increasingly ubiquitous and have made possible the information society that we have today, computers and communications technologies have brought great benefits such as: new prosperity, new educational and democratic opportunities, and most importantly a global village where information is share freely and with ease. I cannot deny these amazing benefits eventually accrue due to these technological developments, but Edward Snowden has revealed information which is a wake-up call for all of us. The realization that computers have the ability to collect and track tiny tidbits of our personal lives is not a new one, but the documents that Mr. Snowden has thrown out on to net for anyone to see should be a warning towards the fear of a future of a ‘Big Brother’ and surveillance society. The problem is that the every single citizen is susceptible to monitoring, with no way of protecting themselves from unwarranted surveillance and snooping of their private data. The damage this can due to the internet and its freedoms will take many forms: users may come to distrust the net for communication, sharing, and storage because they now fear that the government will be spying on them whether or not they are doing anything wrong at all. If we trust the net less, will we use it less? Will it become less of an engine for innovation and economic development? Will it be a diminished tool for free speech and assembly among citizens? But I do not conclude that surveillance is sinister; of course there is a pertinent use for it in society. Because the processes that seem to constrain us simultaneously enable us to use it for protection as well.
One of the ways we can counteract mass internet surveillance is the use of greater encryption of data. Eventually, it is possible to apply encryption to all web traffic instead of certain services like online banking, or shopping. In other words, we need innovation in internet security to put locks in more places and make the existing locks harder to pick for the NSA. If done successfully, the interception of traffic between any two points on the internet will be close to impossible thanks in part to new encryption and security online.
Furthermore, there needs to be stronger greater transparent and stronger democratic oversight of the way security agencies monitor the internet. Unbeknownst to us, security agencies are able to tap into your information which is located on their hard drives without your permission, essentially violating your rights as a human being. Security agencies should not be able to have access into anyone’s private data without probably cause and a strong warrant review process. These programs are unconstitutional although the security agencies claim that they are. They say that “secrecy is essential to meet their overriding aim of protecting the public from terrorist attacks.”(Macaskill) Of course security agencies have a purpose for the defense of national security, but the...

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