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General Thesis Statement
The USA government developed the PRISM program during the presidency of President Bush, apparently to protect Americans from harm. The PRISM was developed from the initial warrantless mass surveillance program. This program was a way of reinforcing the security system within U.S. according to the Congress, but the public sees it differently.
Regardless of its stated benefits by the government, critics of this program strongly argue that it infringes into people’s privacy and confidentiality, and it is not in line with the ethical principles. This paper therefore seeks to discuss PRISM and its impact on people’s lives.
The NSA is in charge of PRISM, which is a clandestine electronic surveillance program for data collection. This program is used by NSA to get information on raw intelligence for preparing analytical reports. PRISM is considered a move by the U. S government to protect the Americans.
The NSA uses the PRISM to monitor communications that are of interest to it. The NSA program works using interceptors called fiber-optic splitters that make copies of data when information is sent through the internet (MacAskill para 4). The NSA’s main objective has not been to gain access into personal information belonging to the civilians.
The main challenge however, has been to separate domestic communications from foreign ones to ensure that the agency is not considered a spy (MacAskill para 3-4). The intentions of NSA seem good but at the expense of the Americans because information that is private and confidential is accessed by another party without seeking consent. The NSA maintains that disclosure of PRISM would ruin the program’s credibility and thereby weaken the security system.
Freedom of and Freedom From and Why It Matter
Freedom of the surveillance program vis-a-vis freedom from surveillance program sound similar but are very different. The former refers to the wide scope which the surveillance program is applied in the Civilian lives. On the other hand, freedom from this surveillance program means not monitoring the civilians without their consent (Gellman and Laura 1). Freedom of the Americans from mass surveillance is not guaranteed because it is presumed to protect the Americans from terrorists (Granick and Christopher para 5).
Privacy is very important in a person’s life, but if it is compromised, freedom of expression is violated. Freedom from legal action was guaranteed to private companies if they collaborated with the government to release information as requested by the Director of National Intelligence. Freedom of total reign over one’s communication details is jeopardized by the ability of the U.S to intercept communications.
Freedom of the people’s and institutions’ information matters because when this information is accessed by a third-party, some goals may not be achieved. The freedom of the NSA to use the PRISM is deemed necessary because it is a sure way of knowing what foreigners are planning against America; hence, the American government is able to take necessary precautionary measures (Prism para 5-7).
Different forms of freedom and NSA
The different forms of freedom with reference to PRISM and mining phone metadata include: political freedom, social freedom and personal freedom. Political freedom is where the members of the different parties are free to make their own decisions: a few members of the Democrats and the Republicans agree with legitimization of the PRISM. The rest are not cognizant of the essence of this legitimization.
Agreeing with the legality of the PRISM leads to violation of people’s social freedoms. It becomes difficult to communicate with friends because one thinks that he or she is being watched. In addition, a person’s personal information like chats and photos are easily accessed. On a totally different note, and one that has been ignored by civilians, the monitoring programs guarantees freedom from terrorist attack because they detect suspicious communications.
Democrats and Republicans and NSA
The New York Times shows that both the Republicans and Democrats make up the Intelligence Committee. A majority of the government watchdogs, mainly consisting of republicans, agrees with the legality of using PRISM and mining metadata from phones.
This majority considers this as an action which is legalized by the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Chandorkar para 5). While the Democrats’ focus is to preserve the liberty and privacy of the people, the Republicans are critics of Obama’s government. These two parties therefore are meant to act against the freedom of monitoring the private lives of the Americans, but they are divided and cannot achieve much.
This gives rise to a weaker voice that cannot succeed in airing the civilians’ grievances. On a different note, Granick and Christopher state that the public was not angered by unauthorized access into its personal communications system as long as Congress had approved this program (para 1).
The U.S. government is fully convinced that the monitoring program enables it to uncover terrorist plots, but it also interferes with the daily lives of the people. The hacking of people’s emails and phones deprives them of their privacy, which is very important for every person.
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Freedom from monitoring and freedom of privacy are only enjoyed by civilians if freedom of monitoring and freedom from legal action, in this context, are withdrawn. The use of PRISM is justifiable, but it should strictly adhere to its function, which is to monitor foreign communications.
Chandorkar, Medha. NSA Prism Program: Obama Spying Scandal Elicits Bipartisan Voices, Pro and Con, 2012. Web.
Gellman, Barton and Laura Poitras. “U.S., British Intelligence Mining Data From Mine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret.” The Washington Post, 7 June 2013. Web.
Granick, Jennifer S. and Christopher Jon Sprigman. “The Criminal N.S.A.” The New York Times, 27 June 2013. Web.
MacAskill, Ewen. “NSA Paid Millions to Cover Prism Compliance Costs for Tech Companies.” The Guardian, 23 August 2013. Web.
“Prism (Surveillance program).” Wikipedia, 29 August 2013. Web.