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National Security Agency Plan on Privacy and Public Safety

Proposal Argument on Privacy and Public Safety


When will Americans ever realize their intense quest for privacy is a detriment to their safety? Will terrorism stop if National Security Agency Plan on Privacy and Public Safetythe individual privacy is taken as a priority against public safety? The complaints over the US federal government invading the privacy of citizens are becoming alarming on a daily basis. Citizens are bent on having their privacy irrespective of possible terrorism that could befall them, the states and the country at-large. However, the government keep developing more strategies to reduce terrorism to the minimum which would require the US citizens to balance their quest for privacy for the safety of their lives and properties. Since the problem against government invading the citizens’ privacy to reduce terrorism in the country is becoming high, this paper proposes a solution to reduce the approaches taken by the government to help fight against terrorism and increase people’s privacy.

Prevailing Problems

The first major problem facing the citizens is that the US government, through the National Security Agency (NSA) is massively collecting large records of phone details and internet data. A post from “CNN politics” has shown that the National Security Agency has embarked on a surveillance program targeted at the collection of phone and internet data to monitor conversations and track any suspicious behaviors relating to terrorism. Another aspect of this is when people’s bank accounts are tracked to see how and where money goes or comes.  This ideas sound like a very smart one, because they are important tools to tract terrorists’ actions. Basically, for terrorists to carry out their operations, they rely on communication over the phone or internet. The NSA’s attempt to do this is a high level of privacy intrusion into majority of the citizen. As a matter of fact, all the citizens are not terrorists, and peeping into their communication to spot the bad guys would mean that their privacy would be breached and there wouldn’t be any reason for hiding some communications that shouldn’t be revealed to the public. Moreso, some individuals in many of these government agencies misuse and abuse the power given to them to follow up issues related to these cases, and this had become a huge problem too.

Furthermore, many citizens now use encryption during communication with one another, and the government is against it. A post on huffington shows that the government is against the use of encrypted communication during conversation on the internet. They claim that it is an obstruction to counter terrorist’s operations. Since citizens have consistently protested against government surveillance program collecting their communication records, they tried to encrypt their communication to help increase their privacy during communication. Many of these communications are over publicly accessible social networking websites and other private messaging platforms. Now, the government is against this new system because it becomes difficult to detect terrorist plots and operations. However, many citizens who had been challenged against the use of encrypted information had filed court cases against the government. Citizens that make use of this system of communication do it through the use of an application and anyone other than the intending recipient(s) hardly understands what is written in such messages unless it is decrypted by the same application. (Eddington, 2015)

Also, the use of full-body scanners in the airports and government buildings for public safety is a detriment to the health system and also an intrusion to the privacy of individuals. Thousands and millions of people are filtered through the airport security check points, most especially in the United States yearly. (Accardo & Chaudhry, 2014) The people are exposed to high radiation from the system causing some health risks and their privacies are intruded. This is burdensome to the citizens and the general public, because people have to be exposed to the deployment of these enhanced screening systems. There had been persistent controversy against the operation of these systems and the issues it posses to privacy priority. It is a known fact that the system enables the airport security to effectively detect contraband (mostly weapons) that is often concealed under clothing’s without necessarily using a physical contact via a stip search. The major problem it posses to privacy is the fact that it scans too deeply through the human body to detect concealed metallic and nonmetallic objects. A study by Accardo & Chaudhry, 2014 shows that sometimes around 2012, the Electronic Privacy Invasion Center (EPIC) had to sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The allegations put forth was related to the fact that screening program put up for new passengers was invasive, unlawful and ineffective. They said that EPIC argued that the full body scanners implementation is a violation against the Administrative Procedures Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Privacy Act, as well as the Fourth Amendment. The major problem with this system is just the fact that people’s full body images are stored, though measures are taken to curb this, but it is still a great concern.

Additionally, the use of surveillance camera is a disturbance to private life since someone watches people’s daily activities all the time. Many citizens have considered the use of surveillance cameras as being under imprisonment of the government, and it is becoming a big issue in the states that the installation of these cameras in public places is an enslavement to the government. (“debatewise”) A review of camera surveillance from the office of the information commissioner establishes this fact that the use of these cameras, despite the advantages, still affects people’s life and the possibilities of being captured by camera and recorded when walking along city street is on a high side. (Office of the Information Commissioner, 2012) The cameras cannot be actually used to prevent crimes, it can only be used to see what is really happening at a particular location. Most of the time, the cameras are used to investigate an incident that had already occurred, how then do this system stand to prevent crime rates? The police depend on the cameras for any clue on what next to be done and they miss the important details of a crime scene. Now, walking in the streets can be done freely, anyone just has it at the back of their minds that they are being watched somewhere. (Wacks, 2010) One of the major considerations is that many of these surveillance cameras are provided with highly sophisticated system that could match images and detect the profile of such persons. This implies that, those watching have access to all the details of a particular person and they not only see people move around when they do, they also know everything about them. So where then is the privacy of the citizens? These are problems that need serious attention and the rights to privacy must be increased sufficiently to take away all doubts from the minds of people, so they can freely go about their daily duties confidently.

For this purpose, the right of privacy must not remain a problem unsolved in our country. A post from huffington by Stone, 2013 declares the importance of the right to privacy. The post emphasizes on how important the right of privacy must be taken into serious consideration and how much of importance it is for the law to recognize this particular facet of the human nature as well as ensure the right to public safety is ensured by the government. Citizens must have the tendencies to effectively run their lives without an indirect search of their lives and a strategy to reduce terrorism must still be maintained. As thought by Stone, 2013 in the huffington post, the principle of conservation of privacy must be  considered tremendously. The technologies have advanced, and it is of no need to spot people’s daily lives and get all information about them. This isn’t how it was in the past. The government never had the possibilities of following up people’s actions and this gave the general public a sense of security and normalcy that it is not likely the government was controlling and monitory people’s activity and movement. (Stone, 2013) However, solving the above problems requires some strategic approaches.

Proposed Solutions

First, the massive collection of phone and internet data, generally known as “metadata” is a prevalent problem that needs a fast response by the government. The information received by the NSA include a record of the majority of calls made in the United States, including the phone numbers of the phone making the calls, as well as the ones receiving the calls, Email, instant messages, Facebook posts, a very large amount of raw internet traffic, and the contents of unlimited number of phone calls. These contents are all private communication geared towards achieving individual desires and should not be compromised with the government. A post from propublica shows that majority of these data are handed over to different levels of law enforcement including the local police and also federal agencies, such as the Federal Marshals, NSA, and the FBI. This implies the information sent privately from any citizen is seen by many other bodies, just in an attempt to detect terrorism acts and intents.

However, I feel a better strategy towards this surveillance program is to innovate a sophisticated technology to address this issue. The technology had advanced beyond human comprehension. Innovating an application that can read through messages and detect terrorists acts, operations, and intents would solve the necessity of the human agencies invading the privacies of individuals. The innovation should also listen to be artificially intelligent to listen to voice calls and be sensitive to raise alarm to the agencies on calls that sounds like a terrorists plans. This could be connected through the internet providers, such as Google or Facebook to the agencies. Immediately, any suspected conversations are noticed, the assigned agencies would look into that conversation immediately. I think this should increase the privacy of the citizens and would reduce government agencies of the necessities of collecting massive data and listening and reading through it.

Second, the decryption of encrypted communication by the government in an attempt to really obtain information that could pose a threat to public safety may not be really necessary if the solution government tries to ensure that citizens are confident in their approach to increase public safety and also take their privacy as priority. People will communicate freely without encrypting their communication since they are fully aware that their communications are not been monitored. Though, encrypted communication may still continue amongst citizens. The proposed innovation I put forth may also raise alarm to really see if such communication could pose a threat to public safety if need be. This strategy will really go a long way to instill trust in the mind of the citizen, most importantly if the innovation is considered effective.

Also, the use of body scanner checks through the body for suspected weapons or contrabands at public places such as the airports and government buildings. The fact that it may store people’s full image is a really big concern for privacy. I know too well that there had been many innovations to help this issue and different technologies have been invented to increase the privacy of people. But I think it should be necessary that the full body scanners do not display any form of image at all. Since the major objective of the scanner is to detect any metallic or non-metallic object that could pose a threat, I feel it is just necessary the system is designed to detect only the contrabands and raise a flag, instead of really displaying the human body regardless of the quality of the image.

In the same way, surveillance camera serves the purpose of monitoring the harm, damage and threats that could occur at any location. It is a very good idea, some of these systems are even highly intelligent that they display all the information about a person, car, object, or event. But in order to increase the privacy of the citizen, improving on the police visibility around hazardous environment would be necessary. This could be done by mounting highly sensitive devices at every location to monitor unusual acts, movements, and operations that could threating the safety of the public. Surveillance cameras can’t be faced out, but the use and abuse of power of these cameras must be cautioned and addressed as quickly as possible. If they are mounted for public safety, then that purpose should be dealt with strictly, not just to check out the daily lives of people and their profiles unnecessarily.

Finally,  the right of privacy must be restored and the fourth amendments and other laws of privacy must be fully taken into serious considerations. The government holds this responsibility and they must also ensure that public safety is not toyed with. The U.S citizen must remain confident in the government’s strategies and this would effectively help the citizens support the government’s approach to solving terrorists attacks.

However, the proposed solution will fix the problems addressed because, technology is advancing on a daily basis, and we tend to wonder what else cannot be solved with technology. There are many systems that perform similar operations as the ones stated in the solution and this can therefore be employed in these proposed solution. It is a matter of consistently improving on the current technologies and deriving a means of solving raging and concerned problems of the U.S citizens. Therefore, the proposed system will solve the problems.

In addition, this proposal is feasible because it is an existing system that really needs an improvement. Just some added and subtracted features to the existing systems will increase the trust for privacy for the U.S citizens. There are systems that reads and listens to communication. For instance, a general example is Google search and other devices. They can listen to words and then type the word for a search. Therefore, developing a system to read, listen, monitor and control communication to raise a signal when there’s a threat is just an added development to many existing systems, this is just to reduce the necessity of human involvement in accessing conversations directly. Moreover, the full body scanners only need to stop accessing full body image, but detect only the contrabands that could pose a threat. These are existing systems that only need to deter the direct involvement of everyone in the concerned agencies.


Finally, as privacy is important to everyone, so as security is. But we do not want to overlook some fair intrusion of ordinary monitoring for our own safety by the government. We know that the government is not targeted at looking into our businesses, family or personal conversation, they are looking into getting the bad guys. But the strategies take are really affecting everybody, knowing too well that we’re not all the bad guys, albeit they live amongst us. For us to join hands to graciously commend the hard work of the government in the attempt to curb terrorism and increase our safety at public places, we must be assured of total privacy consideration and the proposed solutions could be considered to help increase our privacy and also improve our public safety.

Works Cited;
  • Accardo, Julie, and M. Ahmad Chaudhry. “Radiation Exposure and Privacy Concerns
  • Surrounding Full-body Scanners in Airports.” Journal of Radiation Research and Applied Sciences 7.2 (2014): 198-200. ScienceDirect. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S16878507140001686 6 Nov. 2015.
  • “Camera Surveillance and Privacy.” Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland. 2009. https://www.oic.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/7656/Camera-Surveillance-and-Privacy.pdf 6 Nov. 2015.
  • Can Privacy And Security Go Hand In Hand? (2013). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=190682869
  • “Dilemmas of the Internet Age: Privacy vs. Security – CNNPolitics.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/04/politics/deena-zaru-internet-privacy-security-al-franken/ 6 Nov. 2015.
  • Eddington, P. (2015). Secrecy, Privacy and the Future of American Liberty. Retrieved  October 22, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-g-eddington/secrecy-privacy-and-the-future-of-american-liberty_b_7812016.html
  • “FAQ: What You Need to Know About the NSA’s Surveillance Programs.” Top Stories RSS. 5 Aug. 2013. http://www.propublica.org/article/nsa-data-collection-faq 6 Nov. 2015.
  • “Is Privacy More Important than Security?” Is Privacy More Important than Security? http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-privacy-more-important-than-security 6 Nov. 2015.
  • “Privacy vs Security.” Privacy vs Security. http://debatewise.org/debates/3040-privacy-vs-security/ 6 Nov. 2015.
  • Privacy And Security. Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/obama-defends-nsa_n_3406448.html
  • Stone, Geoffrey. “The Boston Bombing, The Right of Privacy and Surveillance Cameras.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2013. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.
  • Wacks, Raymond. “6. The Death of Privacy?” Privacy A Very Short Introduction (2010): 132-38. http://osaka.law.miami.edu/~froomkin/articles/privacy-deathof.pdf 6 Nov. 2015.