Essay on The Effectiveness and Ethicality of Mass Surveillance

1966 Words 8 Pages
In the wake of the National Security Agency's (NSA) scandal of 2013, the principles and usage of surveillance programs have been debated on an international level. The debacle began when former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, released classified security files on the NSA's mass data surveillance programs to journalists at The Guardian, a British newspaper ("The Surveillance State..."). The contents of the leaks reveal intrusive programs, such as PRISM, that obtain large amounts of user data from American companies in the form of telephone numbers, emails, private documents, and videos, all in the name of preventing terrorist activity ("The Surveillance State..."). The existence of such data mining without the users' knowledge or consent …show more content…
Even still, the case did not involve an American attack plot or danger to American persons, and instead involved money being transported to a foreign terrorist organization (Bergen et al.). While still alarming, the case does not prove to be a valid defense for the bulk surveillance's success in preventing terrorist activity, since there was technically no terrorist plot involved to create terrorist activity. In conjunction with this case, a study that was released in January 2014 by the New American Foundation's National Security Program created a database of 225 persons in the U.S. and abroad who have been "indicted, convicted, or killed" since September 11, 2001 (Bergen et al.). The study revealed that out of the 225 cases, 60 percent of the identified occurrences were caused by "traditional investigative methods," or methods not pertaining to Section 215 or 702 of NSA bulk surveillance, and only 7.5 percent of the cases involved the presence of NSA surveillance of any kind (Bergen et al.). This demonstrates that the influence of the usage of mass surveillance is minimal at best in preventing terrorist activities, and more traditional methods for conducting cases may in fact be more efficient in finding possible terrorist occurrences. An architect of the Patriot Act, Jim Sensenbrenner,

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