Obama’s NSA speech this past Friday left me thinking what these modest and inconsequential reforms will actually do (if they are to be implemented in the first place).
Honestly, it seems as though the damage to the country and its citizens has already been done.
Obama is using a trick where he pushes the spectrum further towards corporatism and unchecked government power and control.
One of the main reforms Obama outlined was to push for courts to issue warrants on the querying of bulk data and meta data. Also, the data will have to be stored by a third-party (one that has yet to be set up) instead of the NSA.
The other policy change is to limit the number of “hops” the NSA can use when pinpointing their desired targets from three to two. More clearly, a hop is a connection one or more persons has with a targeted individual. For instance, if the NSA is looking for Person A and Person A has talked to five family members, then the NSA can track calls of those five persons.
One of the issues I have with Obama’s speech, other than the fact that this speech took months after Edward Snowden’s key releases to take place, is that his reforms are meant to seem like new policies. The fact that we have to reconsider court-issued warrants on sensitive material means that we’ve already lost certain liberties and protections against privacy breaches.
This is a slick move by the president and his policy supporters to normalize abhorrent behavior and make it seem as though they’re making progressive changes when in reality those new changes are in fact policies our leaders should have already been protecting — what the rules already ascertain.
After Obama’s speech, I was left thinking that more people may think it’s normal for governments and corporations to continue their violations.
Ironically, Obama’s NSA speech, took place in the Great Hall of the Justice Department. From spying on allies to collecting data on citizens without probably cause, the NSA is operating in a fashion that is the antithesis of justice.
Not even a day after the president’s speech, more information was leaked regarding the NSA’s use text messages through its Dishfire system. Who really thought the intelligence community was limited to just phone records (call, voicemails, etc.)? They are taking advantage of the legal definition of “phone.” With the recent explosion and adoption of “smarthphones,” the NSA now has access to data a basic landline phone doesn’t contain like apps, banking data and geolocation capabilities.
Most people might be concerned with the government having access to their more personal data like texts about our relationships, desires, sexual tendencies, etc., but that might be the least their worries.
In an article by the New Yorker, they point out that the NSA more than likely has access to potentially more damaging information than a simple sext (although I would hope you wouldn’t want anyone other than your intended recipient to receive that). We should be concerned about the NSA,
“Knowing where you are when you send it. Or reading a message from your bank, or from an app that you use to buy coffee or one saying that your flight has been delayed—or a record of which news headline alerts you click on and read.”
These details and tidbits of information create a painting of who we are — a painting that is now being stolen and used within the intelligence community without our knowledge or permission.
Obama, in his speech, added,
“We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals — and our Constitution — require.”
Instead, too often, it seems as though Obama and the NSA are knowingly upholding their power and leadership at the risk of our civil liberties.
Also, what is the point of having the NSA? To protect citizens from terrorist attacks? If that is the case, then that means the surveillance state and erosion of our liberties will be never-ending.
We can’t fall for the old trick that our liberties have to be trespassed in order for the country to maintain national security.
The president is not going to change this. This has to be left up to Congress and the people it represents. This issue is bigger than the president; it’s global. This is a power grab and an abuse of the responsibility we gave these leaders. They asked us for their power and now they are using it to keep secrets and spy on their bosses: the people.
Imagine an employee spying on its employer. That would be unimaginable. Then why is it so easy for us to go along with the government spying on us?