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Is The NSA Internet Surveillance A Violation Of Democracy?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The leakage of NSA internet surveillance program details, also known as the Prism initiative, is being touted as one of the biggest security scandals to erupt in the last few decades. The undeniable proof that NSA was able to monitor internet usage and phone call records for millions of Americans is likely to sharply escalate the debate between privacy advocates and those who deem such surveillance necessary for the security of American interests. The fact that some of the biggest and more admired technology companies were willingly involved in the program is likely to add further fuel to the fire since these companies hold private details of millions of American people and are often considered as the guardians of personal data on the internet.

NSA Prism Surveillance Program – A Violation Of American Constitution

The Prism initiative was launched by National Security Agency(NSA) in the year 2007. The NSA is known as the intelligence gathering arm of the American security agencies and is widely credited for identifying several deadly terrorist threats in the last few years. However, with the Prism program, the agency seems to have overstepped its powers since it directly affects the privacy of millions of American citizens. What’s worse, the NSA got direct access Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft servers which allowed it to harvest internet usage details of millions of unsuspecting American citizens. While the Obama administration is trying to defend the NSA surveillance by claiming that the monitoring is necessary for the safety and security of American people, a lot of people are seeing the program as a serious violation American constitution.

On the surface, it does seem that NSA Prism program violates American constitution and democratic values. Some liberty unions, including ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), have already filed a lawsuit against Obama’s national security team claiming that NSA’s surveillance program is unconstitutional. The lawsuit claims that the surveillance programs violate both First (right for free speech) and Fourth Amendments (protection against unnecessary search and seizure). This is the second lawsuit to legally challenge the validity of the NSA program since the program details were leaked to the media by Edward Snowden. Considering the number of people being affected by the surveillance program and the level of outrage against the Obama administration’s advocacy of such programs, it is safe to say that more lawsuits challenging the validity of the program would hit the American courts in the coming months.

Is It Even Possible To Avoid Surveillance?

For people who were already worried about the safety of their online personal data, the NSA revelations have further increased their anxiety. However, it is possible to avoid all kinds of surveillance by using anonymizing services like virtual private networks (VPNs) and by choosing offshore service providers to send and receive communication. Virtual private networks encrypt your online data and offshore service providers do not have to share data with American authorities since they are not bound by American law which means your online activities would be totally protected from surveillance and monitoring.

June 14, 2013

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