Extinction of Privacy

How private is private?

In light of recent events surrounding David Petraeus, it’s been revealed that the FBI found out about his extramarital scandal by reading his email, leading to his resignation earlier this month. Now, if the FBI can get access to the CIA director’s email account, then who’s to say they don’t have access to yours or mine?

That’s a scary thought.

It turns out the FBI, or any other government/law enforcement agency for that matter, does not need a search warrant to go through emails older than 6 months old- they just need a subpoena, which doesn’t require a judge’s approval, making it easier to obtain. Can you imagine that?

The FBI, NSA, and CIA might be going through your emails right now, reading them one by one.

Reading people’s emails is like reading their diaries- it’s highly personal, reveals the relationships one may have with another, and not meant to be read by others, let alone the government. Unfortunately, with the 1968 outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act, government agency officials can read your 180+ day old emails without a search warrant from a judge. The government doesn’t need to prove to a judge that by reading through your emails, they can find evidence making you suspect to terrorism and other criminal offenses.

Isn’t it great? The government is basically spying on their own citizens. The NSA has dismissed claims of spying on US citizens over and over again, but evidence suggests otherwise. In 2005, the New York Times revealed that the NSA was involved in wiretapping Americans with the consent of companies, like AT&T and Verizon. Next year in Utah, the NSA will open their $2 billion dollar facility, with the plain name of “Utah Data Center.” That’s right. The NSA is going to be opening a center that will store MASSIVE amounts of data on the emails and phone calls made in the US and out of the US by US citizens. And I mean MASSIVE- as in yottabytes massive- one yottabyte is equal to one quadrillion gigabytes. That’s a LOT of bytes.

With the NSA attempting to build a supercomputer to crack codes faster, who knows what types of data they’ll be able to access? They already have listening posts, centers, facilities, and satellites where people are listening to every email, phone call, tweet, etc. millions of people are making. They can do that to their own citizens? Isn’t that against the constitution? Why haven’t the people done anything about it? For one simple reason- the NSA keeps this on the down low. I mean, c’mon, this probably sounds like one of those nut job conspiracy theories- but it’s not. The NSA is really listening and reading- maybe not to you, but other Americans. Don’t fret though; they’ll start listening soon enough. And there’s nothing you can do about it, because the Patriot Act and others like it, allow for the government to do so. When you think about it that way, it makes the US sound like a totalitarian government doesn’t it? It’s a very murky grey area right now, the lines between totalitarian and republic are at best, admittedly blurred. It is arguable from many different standpoints if government has the right to monitor data the way they have been on its citizens.

So you’re probably wondering, why now? Why is this suddenly relevant? Simple. There’s proof that the US spies on citizens. David Petraeus is the proof. He and his mistress kept an anonymous Gmail account to communicate with one another. They used the classic “keep it in the drafts” tactic(the same tactic Al Qaeda used), never sending a real email- yet the FBI still managed to bust them- which means the NSA had to be watching at some point. We, the US Citizens, have made ourselves vulnerable, thinking that everything is so secure- and that will be the cause of our downfall. We think that a password means the account is only accessible to us, and that’s where we’re wrong. Our biggest mistake, however, is not realizing everything we search is recorded and submitted to the US government. I mean, if you think about it, if you are getting sick, who knows about it first? Web MD. Need help on a problem? Yahoo answers will help you. Anything you are too embarrassed to ask a person, you’ll find it online- so then you’ll know the answer and so will the government. You’re better off asking your parents.

So should the government have so much access to our personal and private information and data? Should they be able to read through our emails and listen in on our phone calls without our knowledge- consent put aside? I don’t know about you, but I think that Americans reserve the right to privacy- isn’t that what America is all about?

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