Govt data Surveillance and privacy had never been the most popular subject well talked about and thought about among the people of both advanced and developing countries. But thanks to Snowden episode which opened new debate on how much surveillance can democracy withstand, and how we can lose the last shred of control over our institutions if whistleblowers don’t dare reveal such lies, the people might lose the last shred of control over their institutions.
The Snowden revelations of NSA impeding the privacy of Americans and those in overseas pulled together various international human rights groups on the current level of general surveillance in society which they believe is incompatible with human rights and civil liberty. They rallied behind Snowden to reduce the level of general surveillance and forcing the U.S. lawmakers to reformulate the policy to draw a line as to how far and where exactly is the maximum tolerable level of surveillance is needed which the government must not exceed.
Though Ben Wizner, attorney for Snowden and ACLU attorney, didn’t advocate the legitimacy of Snowden’s actions revealing the NSA classified information, he said due to government’s secrecy the people depend on whistleblowers like Snowden and wikileaks. Ben also argued that that the mass surveillance is illegitimate according to U.S. Constitution and American privacy laws are protected by 4th Amendment.
However, National Security Agency, is of the view that many programs were already well known to the general public and were approved by secret courts, congressional committees and the Executive Branch.
Ben also raised the point of Snowden not been directly involved in making the classified information public. He argued that Snowden passed on the information to journalists, reporters of big media groups like The Guardian, the New York Times and other news organizations. He said the editors and the reporters had been in consultation with the government over the publication of the information and it were the journalists who decided what information should be published and what should be held back.
Ben also highlighted some loopholes in the U.S. legal system as well saying the total surveillance and vague laws make this easier for the government to launch expedition against anyone merely on suspicion.
We all believe that the surveillance data can be used for other intentions as well, as once the data is accumulated the state can have a possible access to this and can use it for political purposes as well. Europe is the recent example of this which vehemently voiced out its concern over U.S. surveillance sweep and sought answers on U.S. surveillance.
Some international human rights organizations consider that suspicion of a crime can be grounds for access and we see that the NSA, through its program called PRISM, has acquired database from many internet corporations like Google, Twitter and Yahoo. These internet corporations ridiculed the who idea of privacy policies which are now more excuses to violate privacy than commitments to uphold it.