The NSA Just Got More Limited in What It Knows About You
The NSA's ability to get records from telecommunications companies just changed, and that's a good thing.
As of Sunday, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) no longer has authority to collect bulk call records from telecommunications companies as part of its continual surveillance activities. This means that companies like Verizon and AT&T will no longer be required to hand over blanket amounts of data detailing what calls have been made and to what numbers. Many Americans are breathing a sigh of relief at the news, while others worry about national security.
The issue of mass surveillance was most famously brought to light by whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, the ACLU says that while the long and difficult march to the recent policy change started with Snowden, it also involved several legal battles. The organization warns to privacy advocates, however, that the program that just ended is only one piece of the bulk-information-collection activities of the NSA and other agencies. For those envisioning a dramatically reduced surveillance state, there is still a long way to go.
Some Americans aren’t relaxing at the prospect of having less of their records collected. They worry that the bulk-data-collections systems are helpful at preventing terrorist attacks like the recent one on Paris. This view has been particularly popular among Republicans, turning the issue into a 2016 presidential election talking point. Are they right? Should we be worried about what the government doesn’t know about us anymore?
It seems as though the most reasonable answer is no. As mentioned above, reducing the government’s ability to collect mass phone records doesn’t at all mean that surveillance has stopped. According to President Barack Obama, the NSA can still collect lots of information, just in a more targeted manner. Analysts now have to get a court order to collect phone records on specific people and can do so for periods of six months at a time. The change is the biggest reduction in U.S. surveillance capabilities since September 11, 2001, but it is a step in the right direction when it comes to balancing surveillance and privacy issues.
Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox
Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!
As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.
Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
- Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
- These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.
- The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
- The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
- Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.
- Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
- Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
- The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.