If you want to know my opinion of Edward Snowden, please check out my article from last week, Edward Snowden, Hero? Traitor? Whistle Blower?
What did Snowden reveal to The Guardian and other various news sources? Working with Glenn Greenwald, writer of such books as, With Liberty and Justice for Some, and A Tragic Legacy, Snowden reveled information about various intelligence programs including interception of US and European metadata and the PRISM and Tempora surveillance projects.
Let’s start off with a definition: Metadata is information about the technology you use. When you log into your email, your computer and your ISP log what time you logged in and what the IP address is for the computer you used. This is a way for your location to be pinned down. This metadata has been used in many episodes of CSI Las Vegas to find criminals. Being able to ping your cell phone off of cell towers, knowing where the last place you checked your email was, where the last place you Tweeted from are all pieces of information used by law enforcement to catch criminals–at least on TV shows. I don’t think anybody has a problem with police using metadata to find a criminal.
PRISM is the government tracking of online data–should be foreigners, but sometimes citizens. According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S. What this means is that the government is collecting a wide scope of internet data of those who are deemed, suspicious, NSA director has stated the communications surveillance has helped to prevent over 50 terrorist attacks, including 10 th at would have taken place in the US. What the average american doesn’t like is that their information could have been collected. We don’t know what “suspicious” activity could be. My parent’s information could easily have been collected because they regularly communicate with me, and I live in China. The government is using this power to take wide sweeps of information, rather than doing the nitty-gritty research to figure out the exact details of what they need, which would take a lot of time and more manpower. We want more information about terrorists to be gathered quickly and cheaply, but by doing that we run the risk of these types of programs where massive amounts of information are gathered at once, and where citizen’s information can be gathered.
Tempora is basically the British equivalent to Prism. Where the British spy agency tapped fiber-optic cables and can track phone calls, internet usage, Facebook messages, email and other things that go over fiber optic cables, and this information was being shared with the NSA.
The information that Snowden released is that the US is doing this, no information about what the US has found with this information or how it is being used. So that does lead to the question, in my mind, of how this information is being used. Why does the US feel the need to collect this large scope of information? Americans want terrorists to be caught, and for another 9/11 to never happen again, and that is what the NSA is trying to do, in my opinion. But does that mean that we should give up our right to privacy, to protect us from terrorists. Because if you aren’t a terrorist then why should you care if the government reads your email to your mother? If we change our way of life the terrorists have won, and maybe they have a little bit. She says with a sigh of sadness.