On June 5, the Guardian revealed that the National Security Agency had given Verizon Wireless a secret court order to hand over phone records. On June 6, the Washington Post revealed that Internet companies and the NSA work together to allow the NSA to view Internet users habits if they are suspected of terrorist activity.
The backlash from the press has been varied in its reactions, from lambasting government overreach into public privacy, to defending the NSA, pointing out that the searches have warrants and are under restrictions in what info they can view and use.
In a New York Times piece titled “Room for Debate: Secrecy and Freedom,” Jamall Jaffer and Eric Posner take stands on both sides of the debate. Jaffer stands against what he sees as government overreach. Posner, on the other hand, argues for more leniency before jumping to conclusion.
“Congress should have more narrowly limited the NSA’s authority to monitor the communications of innocent people. The agency should never have sought the authority to cast an indiscriminate dragnet. The court should never have granted it,” Jaffer states, seeing a breach of the public's Fourth Amendment rights with NSA's access to the location and duration of phone calls in addition to internet postings. “If we are going to restore some measure of the privacy that the Constitution guarantees, we will need systemic reform.”
But Posner counters: “Jameel, I don’t see the need for systemic reform, nor do I see an offense to the Constitution. Indeed, I don’t even understand the nature of the objection to the National Security Agency programs. Exactly what harm did they cause?" While the risk of the government doing something wrong always exists, Posner believes that it is a risk that needs to be taken in order to better defend against the new threats of the digital age. "If government cannot keep secrets, then many programs — including highly desirable ones — are impossible."
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