The very controversial NSA surveillance program is once again grabbing headlines here in the United States. Members of Congress are currently debating about what changes need to be made to the Patriotic Act to ensure an equal balance between protecting our country from terrorists and at the same time, guaranteeing that our personal freedoms are not being interfered with. It is a very tricky balance that has generated a great deal of debate not only by law makers, but by the average American citizens. The million dollar question is how far is going too far. How much government surveillance do we really need in our lives?
Personally, I have struggled with trying to form a definite opinion on this issue. On one hand, I find it hard to believe that a program like this cannot work and not be effective. It is refreshing to know that the NSA has access to great technology at its hand to stop any terrorist in their tracks. We live in an age when another terrorist attack is almost imminent in this country. Knowing we have this capability makes me feel much safer as an American. In order to be assured of that safety, what are we really giving up? Quite frankly, I could care less if some government official wanted access to my phone calls and emails. I have nothing to hide, period!! And many of my fellow Americans can probably say the same thing. I think many people are somewhat overreacting when they say that their personal freedoms are at risk.
On the other hand, what is this point of having large stockpiles of records being stored away? Can we really trust our government to make sure that those records stay secure and are only used for what they are supposed to be used for? Suppose during a presidential election. the sitting president secretly orders that the records of his or her opponents be made public. I can see so many scenarios where this much information will backfire and be used for the wrong reasons like trying to smear a political opponent or a another party. Also, does anyone believe that some hacker from another foreign country or worse yet, some terrorist group, not have the capability to get into that record base? They can easily turn the tables on us with this excess amount of data.
It is refreshing to know that lawmakers from both parties are starting to wake up and thinking about ways to improve this program. Many Americans like myself pose no threat to our national security and there is absolutely no reason at all to collect our private emails and phone records. That is just plain nonsense!! It make no sense to collect records from some 90-year-old woman living in North Dakota. However, some individual who is traveling back and forth from the Middle East would be an excellent candidate for this program. Especially if they were making multiple calls overseas everyday. This program just needs to be more efficient and less costly. There is simply no reason to collect all those phone records. That is a classic example of government waste. I applaud both parties for seeking much-needed revisions to this program. A leaner and less costly program is what we need to ensure our safety and at the same time, protect an intrusive government from digging too far into our lives.