Pervasive Surveillance

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In the past days, Edward Snowden (pictured above), has made history over his claim of National Security Agency (NSA) program called PRISM. This program gathers surveillance data over Americans internet activities, phone calls, etc. through major US phone company. Earlier, accusation was spotlighting Verizon, a major US telecommunication company providing mobile and internet services. Later, however, it was revealed that company like Google, Facebook, and even Microsoft whose Outlook service claimed to have keeping its customer privacy better than Gmail. 

I don’t want to lead you onto the debate over privacy vs national security. We have got the media to do just that. Instead, I am looking at another perspective of this setback in US much bloated democracy.  

Imagine you have the authority similar to what NSA have and will presumably continue to possess, what will you do? 

Despite different forms and manifestations of ideas, the answer to that will converge into one pattern: I will make it beneficial for me

Consider a situation wherein election season is on the horizon and you want to get as many votes as possible to win. Or maybe a simple majority of 60-70 percent of the votes just to avoid suspicions. Can you use this information that is arguably rightfully under your authority? More often than you resist, you can!

Before we go any further, let me get this straight. This is not an accusation of election fraud. This is simply a thought of the thin line between monopoly of information that can undermine democracy and national security.

In spite of massive military budget, the United States is still the country with the highest amount of budget allocation for defense and the most advance weapon system known to mankind.   

As Sir John Dalberg-Acton famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” there’s no guarantee that NSA or other US authorities will continue firmly not to misappropriate their “surveillance power” to their own advantage.

Thus,if program such as PRISM continues to be implemented, there is a great chance that whoever hold the power of US government will abuse his or her authority and from that point on, US can stop calling itself a democracy for it simply has become an authoritarian.

The argument that this level of surveillance has successfully avoided the bomb plot during in New York is simply aggravated. Plus, as this surveillance program surfaced in the public sphere, terrorists will use other avenue to communicate. Will then another program created for the sake of “national security”? 

 

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