Domestic Spying (Patriot Act)
Domestic spying also known as Patriot Act was passed by American congress because they were bullied to it by the President George W. Bush administration in the frightening weeks of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Act allowed the government to monitor phones and internet activities of the citizens. It allowed the government to reduce checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, ability to challenge government searches in courts and public accountability. However, it was considered as illegal among Americans. The National Security Agency spied on Americans from 2006 to 2009.This enabled NSA to collect phone and internet information of many Americans.
The Act was passed overnight with the senate having no chance to read the bill, analyzing it or even consulting. The Bush administration said that members who casted a down vote on it were to blame for any further attacks (John 11). No considerations were made as to whether the surveillance laws had weakness and if the changes made would prevent further attacks.
Patriot Act gave the government expanded power to access personal records held by third party. It had the powers to force doctors, teachers, universities and bookstores, internet service providers among others to release records of their clients or customers. This meant the government could have access to somebody’s medical, financial, internet usage, travel patens, academic and any other activity that is put in records.
Reasons against Domestic Spying
Access to person’s records is unconstitutional since the search is conducted without obtaining a warranty. There should be a probable cause to believe that the person has committed or will commit the crime. It violates the freedom of speech as the recipients of the search are prohibited from telling otters about those searches even where there is no need of secrecy. No notice was given to the citizens whose privacy has been compromised.
More secret searches would be conducted with the new Act. The constitution prohibits government from going into a citizen’s property without telling the person or giving a notice prior to the search. This Act allowed the government to do the search and notify the concerned long after they had finished. This meant the government could enter into people’s offices, houses, apartments in their absence and do a search including taking photographs without informing them.
Issuing a notice is very crucial because it allows the authorities to operate in the open. It assists identify wrong address, realization on exceeding warranty, highlights limits of the search and may lead to more criminal cases rather than putting them to a halt. Unlawful search may lead to seizure of items during the exercise.
The Patriot Act allows expansion of the intelligence exception in wiretap law. This means the government could secretly conduct physical search or wiretap on its citizens to get criminal evidence without proving probable cause. This can lead to filing of false and misleading evidence.
Roomers had it that Bush had signed a secret order authorizing National Security Agency to secretly listen to the conversation of citizens and foreign nationals in the country without their consent. This shows that the act was not being enforced in the best interest of the American citizens. Why do it secretly when it is not fishy?
The agency collected massive amounts of data from private companies on phone calls and emails. This facilitated extraordinary invasion of privacy. This is against the privacy rights. A balance should be sought between protecting the country against terrorism and respecting the citizen’s constitutional rights.
Poor communication hence to negative results. The people entrusted to make laws were not allowed ample time to go through the bill and analyze it. They were forced to pass it failure of which one was taken as the one facilitating terrorism. Moreover, the American public was not aware of the extent to which they were being spied and their information being accessed.
Any nation is obliged to keep its citizens safe, protecting them is the main mission (Keats 62). It is crucial to keep civil liberties and privacy intact. However, this can not be achieved by getting records from citizens by secretly accessing their phones, emails and other records.
Domestic spying raises questions in regard to it’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism (Simon. The measures used are too personal. The access to phone calls means the government knows who was called, for how long, by whom, from where leaving not even a little privacy to citizen’s lives. With phone tracking, anyone can be monitored from anywhere at any time.
Access to record allows the government to collect, retain and study the information carefully including sensitive information. This can lead to development of database for different groups of people. The government authority to collect citizen’s information becomes limitless. A loophole to scrutinize people’s personal lives is created.
Lying on citizens is very unethical. The government did not give full details about the nature of spying it was conducting. Also, the government officials gave misleading information about the surveillance. There was denial and betray to have a government that can not be true to the citizens.
It is paramount that any law be made public and open for debate and public views. It should be open to review by advisory courts and subject to change on guidance of an informed public. This Act was passed secretly, without citizen’s notice or the senators sound decision. In this, it is questionable who this rule represents.
Reasons for Support of Domestic Spying
Domestic spying is legal. The proposers of the bill claim that it is legal. This is a cover up to manipulate terrible ends. A law can only be legal when it has been made public and not private. Elizabeth in the book The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act said that the surveillance was being done undercover until a member of the senate disclosed it. It is vital that every citizen should learn to distinguish legal and illegal things. If there is nothing wrong with what a person is doing, there is no need to hide.
The government is only collecting my data. Simplicity was given to the government collecting the citizen’s data. It is very crucial that some of this information remain private to a person. This means a web of people can be tracked down. These records reveals all the people a person knows as well as the people they know and the cycle continues. There should be room for privacy.
Trust in Bush. Some people claim they trust the president for all he does is for the citizen’s good. This is quite ironical for when the government fails to trust the citizens with what they are doing, the citizens can’t trust them with their private information.
The supporters of the Act argued that it strikes a reasonable balance between providing tools to fight terrorism and safeguarding civil liberties (Danielle etal. 64). However, there are better ways of achieving the two while respecting citizens. In providing tools to fight terrorism, proper measures should be put in place to ensure both parties are at ease with the operation. By giving warranties and notices during the search, the citizens will be aware of what is happening and even release any helpful information they may be having.
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