Privacy: the fundamental aspect of our nation’s Fourth Amendment and security rights and the foundation of respect and dignity. Since Sept. 11, 2001, efforts to stop terrorists in their tracks have been enforced. National agencies have utilized the technological age we live in, in order to survey the conversations of citizens. With access to personal phone calls, texts, emails or posts, agencies such as the National Security Agency swear that each of their employees “takes a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution and the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” according to their website.
Technological information has been shared, or leaked, illicitly or immorally since the beginning of communication technologies themselves. But to what extent can this information be used, or even shared? It is a federal crime to wiretap without approval by a court of law, unless of the parties has given their prior consent. How about when governmental agencies are the ones doing the phone tapping, or the email scanning? Federal law enforcement officials may indeed tap telephone lines only after the parties involved show “probable cause” of unlawful activity, and if the official obtain a court order. Recently surfaced was the controversial news that Verizon was served in April with a court order to provide their entire collection of metadata from its 121 million customers’ phone records.
There are many questions posed regarding email tapping as well, seeing as the cyber world takes a less direct route than a phone call. With the ability to disguise our own IP addresses, or perhaps claim an electronic commination service as our own, a case with no definite guidelines presents itself.
Back in 2007, then-Senator Obama was quoted as saying that his own administration would not “spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” According to recent news, this might not necessarily be the case. If the email and phone tapper are looking for trigger words or phrases, they may be limited to such. He then said, “I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.” He proceeded to spiel, “that means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are.”
In this day and age, a large percentage of your entire waking life will have been photographed or video surveyed, and perhaps a majority of your life’s electronically communicated conversations will have been recorded, and may be released at some point in the future.