Policy Round Up: NSA

Written by

Shanel Adams
Shanel Adams Shanel Adams is an editorial assistant with GlobalPolicy.tv. She is a public relations major, political science minor at Howard University originally from Detroit. Shanel is passionate about poverty alleviation and political participation.

This week, we found out that millions of Americans’ telephone records are being collected by the Federal Government. An article in The Guardian exposed that the National Security Agency requires cell phone provider, Verizon Wireless, to give them information on all information in their systems. The court order suggests that these records are collected without any indication of wrongdoing by the telephone users.

President Obama and the NSA have both responded to the article’s claim. President Obama argues that the NSA program, PRISM, is an effort to ensure national security.
Experts and pundits are on both ends of the table. Recent commentary ranges from outrage of the NSA’s invasion of privacy to support of the President’s efforts to prevent cyber-terrorism. 

Tim Worstall believes the NSA’s program is important for America’s safety:

“As I say that’s the important part of it all. The information, the data, may be in the US as a result of the global spread of the internet and the physical location of servers. But the information cannot be about either a US citizen or someone who is in the US. And, if we’re prepared to be honest about matters, we do actually want the government to be keeping an eye on foreigners in foreign lands. Which is what they’re doing.”

Read the full article in Forbes

John Koetsier writes that the NSA is deceiving Americans about their privacy:

“NSA director Keith Alexander told hackers last year at Def Con in Las Vegas that the National Security Agency, which is supposed to focus on foreign intelligence, does not track every American. Strictly speaking, that’s accurate. Every American who does not use a product or service from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, or Apple might just possibly be safe. Which means that, in other words, Alexander’s statement looks like a lie.”

Read the full article in Venture Beat

Marcy Wheeler challenges the responses of this incident made by members of Congress:

“The reaction from members of Congress to the revelation that the Section 215 surveillance was just as bad as some of us have been warning has varied, with Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss reiterating claims about the value and oversight of the program (though not having any idea, according to DiFi, whether it has prevented any attacks), and Ron Wyden and Mark Udall effectively saying “I told you so.” John Boehner dodged aggressively, suggesting even though he had approved this surveillance President Obama had to explain it.”

Read the full article in Empty Wheel

Ronald Brownstein brings attention to a poll relevant to this week’s NSA headlines:

“Americans believe their cell-phone, e-mail, and other communications history is more likely to be accessed without their consent than any other form of sensitive personal information, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found.In the poll, 85 percent of adults surveyed said it was likely that their “communications history, like phone calls, e-mails, and Internet use,” was “available for businesses, government, individuals, and other groups to access without your consent.” That was a higher percentage than believed that any other kind of private information, such as medical and financial records, is being obtained without their approval.”

Read the full article in National Journal.

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