As is so often the case these days, yet more details have been leaked by Edward Snowden about the National Security Agency’s surveillance efforts. Only this time, it was something that we had already suspected: they regularly break their own rules. The lack of shock from the American public is proof that the average citizen now holds no trust at all in the government tasked with protecting them.
There are three areas where the NSA is supposed to be overseen. The first is Congress, the second is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Administration (FISA), and the third is the Executive branch of government which includes the White House. But a story broken by the Washington Post shows that there is next to no oversight from any of these sources.
In fact, Congress has been so taken for a loop by the extent of this scandal that they might as well have not known about the program existing at all. They have been scrambling with hearings to try and work out just what was going on under their noses.
According to Snowden, the NSA doesn’t follow its own rules or bother with oversight in the first place. The Post confirmed this when they got a hold of an audit for May 2012, showing a year’s worth of internal citations. These included more than 2,700 unauthorized collections of data, improper storage, illegal access to communications and overall improper conduct.
Just a single incident involved more than 3,000 Americans and visa holders living in the country.
This is what happens when too much power is given to any one agency. September 11th gave the government everything they needed to enact these measures, and while the original intentions may have been sound, the methods were not. The fact that this is continuing on at this level could spark the argument that in trying to protect our “way of life”, the NSA is helping to bring about the very thing they are fighting against.
At the same time, we are as much to blame. Lack of privacy has become a problem that permeates our lives at every level. Most of us will never be watched by the government because there is no reason we should be of any interest.
In the meantime, we willingly expose ourselves online every day to websites that use our private data as currency. Maybe it is time we started to question how much of the technology we have is worth what we are giving up.
Source: Washington Post