|Scooped by Danielle May|
In researching Edward Snowden and all of the chatter surrounding the NSA leaks, I found a variety of different opinions and insight into what will and won’t change as a result. I spent some time reading personal blogs to get a feel for what the general public thought and their opinions were very emotionally charged. Seeing as how this assignment required reputable and scholarly sources, I opted to not use the blogs in my articles below. Although very emotionally driven, the thoughts of the public don’t seem to differ too terribly much from what I found in news articles and journals.
If you do not learn from history, you’re destined to repeat it. This is something that I have been hearing from my teachers for as long as I can remember and I found it to be extremely pertinent to this question as well. Internet and phone surveillance is not a new issue. American citizens have been being monitored since the 1700’s when mail that passed through the postal system was routinely opened. In 1838 when the telegraph was invented, bugging of these messages began almost instantaneously. Law enforcement agencies began tapping wires on early phone lines in the 1890’s. The 1950’s brought on the first secret endeavor to servile the population without their knowledge, which until Edward Snowden was occurring once again. Every time the general public gets a grasp on what is actually occurring behind the closed doors of the government, there’s a large cry for outrage and change that typically doesn’t last very long. Once the dust settles, as history would have it, a new piece of legislation is brought forward to enact the same or similar actions that were originally being questioned.
The articles I found bring many different insights to the table in terms of whether or not internet privacy will change. The article that caught me the furthest off guard (and there were many different versions of this story out there from different sources) was the story about, what I would consider to be the most shocking and apparently unforeseen consequence of Snowden’s actions. The Washington Post painted a grim picture of how the leak of how the US government acquires data about terrorist organizations actually may have aided Al-Qaida and other militants. From all of the articles I’ve read and videos that I’ve seen, I would have to make the hypothesis that this was by-far not the desired outcome of Snowden’s actions – but a negative impact none-the-less.
Another item I found, a video from Russia Today (RT) Network, gave an approach to how internet privacy will change that I originally had never considered as an outcome of the leaks. The reporter in this article go on to explain the number of different ways YOU as a user can keep yourself private as well as safe. Startpage.com offers Google results without the tracking cookies and IP tracing that typically come with a Google.com search. There are also many of data, voice, text encryption software packages available for download; however, these do come with a pretty price tag and typically require a monthly or yearly membership to maintain the software features. The question is now, are you willing to pay more for your privacy?
Another item that I just found out about while researching this topic was the “Reclaim Your Name” program. This program has actually been around for quite some time, but FTC commissioner Julie Bell has gone full steam ahead with this initiative ever since the PRISM information went public. “Reclaim Your Name” will allow the user to not only see how their information is being used by and sold to/from companies but they can also take control of their own data and opt out of marketing based selling of their information. If Ms. Bell can get this initiative off the ground and enacted into use, I would consider this to be a very positive change to internet privacy. The public demand for this kind of initiative is very high at this moment as a result of the NSA leaks.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who feel that this is just how we live now-a-days. A surveillance state is all that they know and they are comfortable with it. There’s a group of people out there with the general consensus of “I’ve got nothing to worry about, I’ve done nothing wrong” basically allowing programs like PRISM to monitor them without question. We are of the generation who knowingly and willingly puts their entire life on the silver platter that is the internet for all to see. To these individuals, privacy is dead and as a result, they believe that there will be no changes in internet policy and privacy sparked from the NSA leaks.
Unfortunately for me, the topic I chose to research was so very new that the majority of findings on the web are opinion-based, emotionally driven blogs. I had a difficult time finding fact-driven articles and journals to paint a picture of what will be in the future of internet privacy. Edward Snowden did what he believed to be his due diligence in giving the American public the truth about their privacy. I am the same age as Edward and I can’t imagine what he must be going through knowing that he will never see his family again or come home. This must have been something that he felt so strongly about that he was willing to give it all up for. He stated in his interview with Guardian (UK) that he was hoping for change with President Obama’s reelection. It was change in security/privacy that he was initially promised, but never delivered… so he made his own choice to attempt to fix it himself the only way he knew how. The leaking of the phone record data collection and the PRISM documents sparked change in many different ways… including the unfortunate run-in with militant groups who read about the types of data collection practices, but also by international governments reviewing their interactions with American parent companies like Google and requiring rewrites of policies, to the FTC pushing harder on their “Reclaim Your Name” initiative - both of which having positive outcomes.