The National Security Agency (NSA) is a government technological organization that works to analyze and collect foreign data and information. It also has the responsibility of protecting U.S government intelligence. Recently, when NSA employee,
Edward Snowden, leaked high-security information to the press, it was brought to light that the NSA had been monitoring any communication over the Internet since September 2007 and listening on private phone conversations.
Snowden’s serious security breach is considered by some as traitorous, while others have called him a hero and a whistleblower. No matter where you stand, knowing everything you do on the Internet is being analyzed or an unwelcome third party is listening on the phone, makes many people a little uneasy.
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The NSA scandal started with a project called Prism, and the first company used was Microsoft in 2007. Over the next five years, other online companies were added to mix. Yahoo! joined in 2008 and was quickly followed by Google, Facebook, and Paltalk during 2009. During 2010 and 2011 YouTube, Skype, and AOL were added and the last company to join was Apple in 2012.
Although Prism used these companies to gather information from the Internet, every single company has denied having any knowledge of the NSA using their data. Tapping into phone calls has been done for many years, but Verizon was the first cellphone company that was monitored by Prism.
The exact information collected can be anything and everything done via the Internet, cellphones, or landlines: this includes e-mails, accounts, searches, messaging, chats, stored data, uploaded videos and pictures, social networking and account logins. The point of collecting data isn’t to ‘spy’ on Americans, but to find and stop terrorists and terrorism.
Just how effective is spying on the American people? It seems to be inconclusive and there is no known success that the system has caught or stopped a terrorist attack. More people feel that this infringement on their privacy is much more harmful on its citizens than tracking down terrorists.
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- The Evolution of the U.S. Intelligence Community-An Historical Overview
For many, the government’s power to take a peek into American’s personal lives is unsettling, but in his actions, Edward Snowden also exposed the lack of security applied to protecting sensitive information. In light of this scandal, countries around the world are tightening up their security and re-evaluating their own systems. Europe was already in the process of creating data-protection laws, but now more than ever they aim to protect the privacy of their citizens. Many governing bodies are discussing the implementation of more online security and phone protection programs for individuals and businesses.
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The NSA scandal may stir up similar fears felt during other scandals. For example, in 1972, the Watergate Scandal was a political scandal under President Nixon’s administration. A group of men broke into the Watergate headquarters and after thorough investigation, Nixon and the Democratic Party were found to be involved in various illegal activities.
During the Bush administration, the NSA was allowed warrantless surveillance to monitor any Internet activity or phone calls by groups and individuals that had been deemed potential threats to the nation’s security. History shows that people do not like to be deceived and want personal information to remain safe and private. The defense department needs to face Edward Snowden’s leak head-on and tighten up security to prevent further harm.