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How should the U.S. balance privacy with national security in NSA spy programs?

March 19, 2013

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

Seeking to calm a nervous public about government surveillance programs, President Obama has announced changes in how the National Security Agency collects and tracks phone records of Americans as well as stores their email and Internet information.

“The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,” he said in a speech last month at the Justice Department.

Up to now, the NSA collected vast amounts of phone records from terror suspects abroad. Information about whom they called, for how long and how often they talked was all swept up in massive databases. The NSA uses this large collection of data, called metadata, with other law enforcement agencies like the FBI to track and capture suspected terrorists or people planning to harm Americans or American institutions.

Until last summer, the collection of information was a secret. Then a whistle-blower revealed that the NSA was collecting the phone records of American citizens and foreign leaders. Before the leak, the NSA and the Obama administration said the NSA was not tracking Americans on U.S. soil.

That wasn’t entirely true since Americans who were a few degrees of separation from a terror suspect had their phone records tracked. So if you talked to friend A, and he talked to Friend B who happened to have an uncle abroad who was being watched and they recently had a phone conversation, chances are that your phone records were being collected, all of it without public review or approval from Congress or the president.

Some Americans found it troubling that the NSA, which was collecting the information and reviewing it, seemed to operate without any oversight. This lack of oversight was a condition of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 legislation that expanded government surveillance both domestically and abroad to catch terrorists before they strike.

Only the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), which authorized the surveillance program, had oversight of the NSA’s program. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the information being discussed during the authorization cases, the FISA court sessions are closed. There is no oversight from Congress or the executive branch. The FISA court, some argued, was a rubber stamp for the NSA. It approved 1,855 of the 1,856 requests for the collection of phone data in 2012.

Obama has stressed that the collection of data will continue. But he says that the privacy and civil liberties of citizens are to be protected while allowing the agency to do its job.

The first major change the president proposed was that the NSA would no longer house the data it was collecting. A yet-to-be named agency would hold the data and the NSA would have to make a request to look at it. For this change to become law, Congress would have to amend the Patriot Act, requiring approval from both houses. Obama also said that a judge’s approval must be received before intelligence agencies can examine any data.

The president said he would shrink the length of connections surrounding terror suspects to two steps away, instead of the three connections that exponentially increased the number of Americans being tracked. And Obama said a panel of advocates would review the surveillance policies of the NSA. These advocates will come from various backgrounds and will be asked to make the surveillance policies as unobtrusive as possible while still allowing law enforcement to track and capture suspects.

Now that the president has laid out his plans to overhaul the surveillance programs, it is up to Congress to act, although Obama may be able to order some changes on his own. House Speaker John Boehner said, “The House will review any legislative reforms proposed by the administration, but we will not erode the operational integrity of critical programs that have helped keep America safe.”

What do you think?

How can the government balance protecting citizens from terror attacks with privacy and civil liberties concerns? Is one more important to you than the other? Do you think the NSA should have more oversight or less? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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Comments
9/15/2014
California(a.k.a the best state)
Angel
Jabro Creekside Highschool
Honestly, there is no real reason the NSA has the right to invade other peoples privacy. NO MATTER WHAT. It goes against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So literally, anyone working woth the NSA should be tried and jailed for the crime of secretly tapping EVERYONE'S phones whenever they want to, and hacking our website info. This is the start of a faulty government that no one in the right mind would want to be apart of. Just like communism, the government controls EVERYTHING, but they let us live our lives knowing were just fools who cant wake up to reality.

8/27/2014
Murrieta CA
alec
Mr. jabro / Creekside
first off, it really scares me that the president withheld this information from the public. It makes me wonder what else has he lied about and is he fit to be leading our country in such a manor. I agree with the idea of the NSA tracking potential terror subjects to insure our safety but the amount of secrecy and the lack of a control point for them really concerns me about whether i am truly receiving privacy.

6/12/2014
Stroudsburg, PA
Kyle J
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I think the NSA should have more restrictions on tracking the phones of terror suspects. Privacy is obviously an issue, it is not a complete violation of a person's rights yo privacy but it is right along the line of it. I understand that they are trying to protect American citizens from terror attacks but their methods aren't completely suitable for the public. There are completely harmless people who are being spied on right now, and having any private information sent to NSA databases to be monitored and analyzed. I feel like the government has complete capability to track terror suspects without having to invade the privacy of other people easily. Unless there are viable connections to the terror suspect, people who are of a few degrees of separation should not have their phones tapped. What makes the entire situation worse is that it was kept in the dark from the public until somebody informed them, most likely Obama wasn't going to ever say a word about it. That seems suspicious to me, if they are just trying to keep us safe, shouldn't we be notified in the means that they're doing so? I am completely for trying to protect the American population from danger in a way such as this, but they should take more precautions towards a person's privacy.

6/12/2014
Stroudsburg PA
Kayliegh
Mr. Hanna
I believe that cameras should NOT be aloud in Supreme Court. I think this because almost anyone can go in and if someone is able to snap a picture of something no one is suppose to see, things will end very badly.

6/11/2014
Stroudsburg/ PA
Michael I.
Mr. Hanna/ Stroudsburg JHS
I think the government should keep doing what they are doing and only keep the phone records for a certain period of time. I think it more important for the government to keep us safe instead of privacy. The government is not sharing any information and they only personally know about less than 10% of the population so why does it matter? Last I think the NSA should have as much insight as possible.

5/30/2014
Wisconsin
Chance
Northwestern
The first question is incredibly vague and indecisive, which makes it especially difficult to answer. It depends on which part of the government you are looking at to do the balancing. As shown in the article to the left, the executive branch is doing all that they can to limit what the NSA is allowed to do. The president is trying to make a series of checks and balances to make sure the NSA has loops to jump through in order to do what they do. But no matter how hard the President presses the issue, his attempts are futile unless he is given support by the house. And given the fact that the house has not sided with Obama on any of the issues he has brought before it while he was in office, then who's to say that it will side with him this time. In order for the government to balance protecting citizens from terror attacks with privacy and civil liberties concerns, it has to balance itself first. Which is a completely separate issue in and of itself. Looking at this article has made me realize that those are two concepts I weigh equally. And personally speaking as a citizen, I don't think I should have to weigh one more heavily than the other. That's why we have a government and elect the people we do to run it. It is the governments job to be able to provide us with both, we shouldn't have to choose or worry about which one is more important to us. I believe the NSA should have much more oversight than it does. If things like what Obama is trying to bring to the table can be, or would have been, put in place than I think this wouldn't be as big of an issue as it is today.

5/22/2014
montgomery/Tx
Chris Combs
Metzger/montgomery
I think the government is going to far with their surveillance programs. The program is aimed at catching terrorist or at least that is what it is supposed to be. Many citizens feel that their liberties are being lost. Is all this efficient or even necessary? I say no, once we start giving away our liberties we will never get them back.

5/6/2014
Rudyard
Melissa
North Star
The balance between protecting citizens from terror attacks and civil liberties is a tough task to do. I think the a utopian way of solving a controversial problem like this is near to impossible. I think that protecting the overall public is more important than the rights of an individual. I think that the people should not be constantly monitored though, it should only be in the instance of a threat. Our individual rights should not be violated unless there are real concerns involving the safety and scantily of the public.

5/5/2014
Rudyard/ Montana
Whitney
Mrs. Campbell/ North Star
Privacy and civil liberties are granted to everyone in the United States. However, there comes a time when these can be restricted. The Government is just trying to do its best to protect the citizens of its country. If it is such a big deal that they are invading yout privacy then maybe you truely are hiding something. The common good is more important. The government is trying to appease things for the many. If you had to pick, would you choose to save just one person or save ten instead. That is how the government works, it looks to help the many. The question shouldn't be if the NSA should have more oversight or less, it should be how should they go about things. There is the issue, to some people, that the NSA is being secretive and going behind the citizens backs but how could they get the information they truely needed if they just went to ask that person. A person who is hiding stuff isn't just going to come right out and say it so the NSA has to be secretive and not say anyhting.

4/21/2014
Irving/Texas
Jose L
Bradley/Nimitz
First of all it was very helpful for the president to try and step forward and try to balance the NSA programs with the citizens. I don’t think people take that into consideration that our government is just trying to protect us. Even when we get all stirred up about having our privacy minimally compromised the government comes out with another plan to “not hurt our feelings” I would say. It’s part of the NSA’s job to be secretive in order to execute their duties. I find it really disrespectful to the government for us to complain when they could be saving our lives. The reason they have programs like that is because the NSA has learned their faults after 9/11. They don’t what that or anything like it to happen again. We as citizens who are being protected should just comply with the type of balance they are trying to establish between us. It isn’t their intention to intrude into our lives and make us feel uncomfortable but to protect us in the comfort of a safe nation.

4/20/2014
Irving/Texas
Rajith I.
Bradley/Nimitz
While personal liberties are the foundation of America, to protect those civil liberties national security is of the utmost importance. The safety that the NSA and other government agencies provide prevent attacks thus allowing people to even have arguments like this. These types of new government initiatives (e.g. TSA) have prevented other terrorist attacks in the same scale as 9/11. However, that doesn't mean all NSA surveillance programs are necessary or even effective. It has been widely reported that the bulk phone information collected by the NSA didn't prevent any terrorist attacks. Disregarding people’s personal liberties by broadly sweeping personal information, company information, and any information at all is clearly wrong and disregards the basis of our society. The NSA and other surveillance agencies have been lazy in their efforts, rather than doing the actual work to catch a single fish with a single hook, the NSA has indiscriminately cast a wide net catching that same single fish plus a schools worth of fish they do not even need. The NSA should have more third party oversight and not a kangaroo court that it controls. Government surveillance should have probable cause to search corporate databases and people’s personal information rather than having free reign. The NSA program should stay but it should have more parameters and not be allow to basically rule itself.

4/18/2014
Irving/Texas
William
Bradley/Nimitz
While recognizing that security is important, it must be considered how ridiculously far the NSA are taking it. The fact that they can monitor a friend of a friend of a distantly related relative who is on the watch list in essence gives them the power to monitor anybody they choose, without proper reason to believe that person is a potential terrorist. This power should be limited to follow the fourth amendment requiring a warrant. However for the majority of citizens, there is no interest in monitoring them and they are merely paranoid.

4/18/2014
Irving/Texas
Han Huynh
Bradley/Nimitz
The government cannot balance protecting citizens from terror attacks and privacy and civil liberties concern. They must choose one or the other. I believe that national security is of the most important areas where we should be focusing on. However, many people believe that the NSA is invading their privacy. Although true, national security is something we absolutely need to empower by giving up some of our privacy. The NSA's oversight is in a good spot; I believe if the NSA were to be more intrusive to our lives, great disasters can occur.

4/18/2014
Irving/Texas
Monica F.
Bradley/Nimitz
While I understand that someone could feel violated by the collecting of records, the way that they're doing it doesn't actually seem like it should be considered a violation. They're trying to keep our country safe, and if that means going through phone conversations with people connected to a certain suspect, I don't see the problem, as long as they don't keep records of those who aren't actually doing anything suspicious. And honestly, no one would know about this if the "whistleblower," hadn't said anything. It seems like the NSA knows what they're doing, and if it can prevent future tragedies from happening, I feel like they should have the oversight they have now.

4/18/2014
Irving/Texas
Pam
Bradley/Nimitz
When it comes to national security, it is better to be safe than sorry. The NSA’s program has been helpful in retrieving important information and if it requires them to be over-precautious, then so be it. While some think of it as invasion of privacy, others see the overall benefit to what the NSA is doing. To me, my safety is more important than having a conversation overheard. The amount of oversight the NSA has now is a good balance and shouldn't be increased or decreased.

4/18/2014
Irving/Texas
Pablo M
Bradley/Nimitz
The united states government responsibility is to protect the citizens from any possible threats of terrorism. We have to sacrifice our privacy to make this country a safer place. NSA should have the right to track whoever they want, but not keep records of what individuals do online unless it shows any possible threat of illegal activity. NSA should have more oversight. This would be good for the country, future attacks could be prevented.

4/17/2014
Irving/Texas
Yesenia
Bradley/Nimitz
There is no sure way to protect citizens of terrorist attacks and keep the privacy of citizens safe. To keep citizens safe that would mean an invasion of privacy to intercept possible terrorist attacks. If citizens care more about their safety and possible terrorist attacks then the NSA should have more oversight but no body wants somebody to know all about their business, but does it really matter if they don't even know about it? I think if the NSA has more oversight it wouldn't harm anybody on the other hand they could probably help prevent crime, capture a criminal, or prevent a terrorist attack. The NSA should have more oversight that way we can keep citizens safer and decrease and prevent crime.

4/17/2014
Irving/TX
Evila
Bradley/Nimitz
In the name of security the privacy of American’s is being violated. The federal government may say that it is to protect the general public and it only conducts these intrusive collections of data with reasonable suspicion, but there is no court order to dictate what is reasonable. This act violates our fourth amendment right. The government is conducting unreasonable searches on our data. The NSA makes the call. If the agency wishes it can collect data from everyone in the hopes of preventing one terrorist. One may say well if they have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear, but do we want the federal government spying on our day to day activities, because we spoke to a person who has an uncle who may know a person who may be associated with terrorists? The question isn't about balance the question is how much are we willing to give up in the name of “security.”

4/17/2014
Irving, TX
Josh A
Bradley/ Nimitz
There are just some things that the our citizens should not know about. Even if they find out about these secret projects, they must understand that these projects were made to protect us. If I have nothing to hide, I would not be worried if I was tracked or taped. Yes, our privacy is important, but for the most part, the NSA was made to discover deadly plots against our country. In the end, the program is there to help us and not harm us. It is in light of this that I believe what Obama has proposed is a good plan.

4/15/2014
Irving/TX
Vivian
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that the government is doing a fair job to the people securing protection as well giving them their privacy. The NSA and President Obama is just doing what they can to keep their citizens safe from any foreign terror attacks. This even helps keep track of people's phone records that can help with possible evidence needed for other safety precautions. The Patriot Act was established for any terrorist to commit a crime will be penalized with certain consequences. These are the possible terrorist that can communicate through any communication system the NSA tracks. The NSA is doing a sufficient job of oversight for Americans. In the end, everyone's safety and well-being will become first before individual's privacy.

4/14/2014
Irving/ Texas
Victoria E.
Bradley/ Nimitz HS
To balance something as fragile as civil liberties with something else is near impossible because there will always be some person or group that feels as though their civil liberties are being stepped on. Therefore when it comes to something as major and important as national security it is not always in the country's best interest to put the concerns of a few over the lives of the many. Before people knew that the NSA had so much insight, they went about their daily lives as normal. If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about because I very seriously doubt that the NSA concerns themselves with our lives. If the NSA can find any way to prevent terrorist activity, that doesn’t not seriously infringe upon my rights as a citizen, then I believe it is what they should do.

4/14/2014
Irving/Texas
Lacie
Bradley/Nimitz
What Obama is proposing in the Patriot Act should make many Americans very happy. Although many citizens are seeking for full privacy, the Patriot Act meets in the middle with the NSA and the American public to reach a fair agreement. The National Security Agency has been very sneaky lately. They begin to get suspicious about every little thing which has lead to their interest in knowing what is happening at all times. The NSA has felt the need to investigate even the smallest of incidents that stand out to them, which truthfully is their job. I understand the NSA worrying because of things like terrorists attacks and spies from other countries. I personally am not offended by the NSA having information on my cell phone, email, etc. I have nothing to hide, and quite honestly, nothing that would be valuable to the National Security Agency. Many problems could come with this because of the number of Americans who are very offended by the fact that their phones and emails may be tapped, which could lead to a lot of drama like lawsuits and court cases and such.

4/14/2014
Irving/Texas
Jessi
Bradley/Nimitz
The changes that the President is proposing for the Patriot Act are a fair and solid compromise. The NSA just seems to have gotten out of hand in the past few years. Now that things (seem to) have calmed down a bit (aside from Russia and such), the NSA is running on a security standard that is outdated. The changes are inevitable, for the sake of the public and current events. To answer the personal question, I do not mind investigations of my phone records because my typical teen life has no value to the NSA. Though, other people would easily want to sue because of privacy. The problems that could arise from that would be bringing cases to court without notifying anyone that their phone was being tapped. Also, if any kind of information learned from public phone tapping was spilled (cough cough Snowden) there would most definitely be issues. The NSA needs to take a step back.In this case, the compromises and amendments presented by Obama to Congress appear appropriate.

4/9/2014
Sidney/MT
Megan
Me. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue at hand is the government trying to find a happy medium between privacy and security. President Obama is trying to reform the security to meet peoples need of privacy. The NSA says they won't watch anyone on U.S. soil, but I don't believe that. In the article it says that they will follow your phone records if you are friends with a person who is friends with a person who is someone on their red flag list. I don't know about everyone else but I think that is to long of a chain, and the NSA is crossing the line. I agree with Tori that the peoples 4th Amendment right to privacy is being violated. The NSA needs more strict guild lines.

4/8/2014
Sidney/MT
Megan
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue at hand is the government trying to find a happy medium between privacy and security. President Obama is trying to reform the security to meet peoples need of privacy. The NSA says they won't watch anyone on U.S. soil, but I don't believe that. In the article it says that they will follow your phone records if you are friends with a person who is friends with a person who is someone on their red flag list. I don't know about everyone else but I think that is to long of a chain, and the NSA is crossing the line. I agree with Tori that the peoples 4th Amendment right to privacy is being violated. The NSA needs more strict guild lines.

4/8/2014
Sidney/MT
Lexie Brunsvold
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue in this article is how the United States should try to balance privacy with national security in NSA programs. The NSA has collected vast amounts of phone records from terror suspects abroad. They say they have never tracked Americans on the U.S. soil, but the probability of that being true is very low. The NSA program still needs to keep America safe, but at the same time not infringe on their civil liberties. As Ariana said, "the NSA is important in protecting the American people but they should have limited amount of power and should definitely require oversight from Congress or the executive branch." I agree with this, the NSA does need to be overseen by some other branch and not just the FISA. The FISA approved every request besides one made by the NSA in 2012. Congress or the executive branch should be looking at the NSA more closely and if it is being used for the right reasons. Privacy is a right that people take very seriously. I do believe, however, that the safety of Americans should be put above our privacy. No one wants another 9/11 attack. I think it would be very difficult to balance these issues, but if they do not at least try people are going to keep losing trust in the government.

4/8/2014
Irving/TX
Anh
Bradley/Nimitz
I understand that in today’s society, privacy is a rare delicacy due to the many attacks from terrorist and other events that had happened. We need both the national security and also our privacy. With the NSA spying in our lives and convos, it’s an invasion of privacy that makes us feel as if the government is overpowering us rather than protecting us. It’s an inevitable situation really since they are doing this to protect us. I believe the NSA should have less of an oversight since everything is on the downlow at the moment, but they shouldn’t have their guards off. But they also shouldn’t be so restricted around us that we need to be careful of our every move. Since Obama has said something and has tried to make it more of a balance between the two, I believe it’s slowly getting better and that really, it’s up to congress now.

4/8/2014
Sidney/MT
John Elmore
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue at hand is to find a balance between privacy and national security at the hands of the NSA. The article states many of President Obama's proposed plans to reform the spying efforts of the NSA. I believe that he is on the right track, but the NSA simply needs someone to watch over them while they watch over us. Any agency that goes unchecked has the power to be corrupted. We, as Americans have a right to privacy and agree with Tori Hills blog when she said that she values her privacy over collected phone records. I do not believe that the NSA should quit spying but I do think that they should have a series of checks and balances and someone to watch over them.

4/7/2014
Sidney/MT
Tori Hill
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue presented is how to balance privacy with national security, both of which are compelling governmental interests. The government is trying to balance protecting citizens from terror attacks with privacy and civil liberties concerns. In this case, I think I value privacy more. The Fourth Amendment is not being protected. Innocent civilians are being unreasonably searched and they don't even know about it. I disagree with the Patriot Act. I believe the NSA should have less oversight. There has to be oversight from Congress and/or the executive branch or some branch of government connected with citizens instead of just giving FISA and the NSA free reign! As the article said, there were 1,855 approved requests for the collection of phone data of the 1,856 requests in 2012. If that isn't a shocking statistic, I don't know what is. "Obama stressed that the collection of data will continue. But he says that the privacy and civil liberties of citizens are to be protected while allowing the agency to do its job." How vague is that statement?! In rebuttal to Michael Egeonu's statement "The less you know, the better," and berenizes statement "Ignorance is bliss comes out to play when talking about the US and what they do to our privacy": Wow! Ignorance is bliss? No! You know what? Maybe IGNORANCE is STRENGTH. And the sad thing is, you two would probably agree with that statement.

4/7/2014
Irving/ TX
Kayla
Helen Bradley/ Nimitz High School
While I do believe privacy is something extremely important, I believe that the security of each citizen tramples privacy. In order for us to be safe our right of privacy has to be taken advantage of. Now, I do not approve of our privacy to be completely taken away from us but if a little of our privacy has to be taken away from us for the well being of ourselves and others, then so be it. I believe that if you do not have anything to hide then it should not bother you. There should be certain rules and regulations so you're not taken advantage of but as long as it's for the security of our country it's alright. The NSA should have the oversight they need in order to keep the majority of our country safe.

4/7/2014
Irving/ TX
Kayla
Helen Bradley/ Nimitz High School
While I do believe privacy is something extremely important, I believe that the security of each citizen tramples privacy. In order for us to be safe our right of privacy has to be taken advantage of. Now, I do not approve of our privacy to be completely taken away from us but if a little of our privacy has to be taken away from us for the well being of ourselves and others, then so be it. I believe that if you do not have anything to hide then it should not bother you. There should be certain rules and regulations so you're not taken advantage of but as long as it's for the security of our country it's alright. The NSA should have the oversight they need in order to keep the majority of our country safe.

4/7/2014
Sidney Montana
Erin
Mr. Faulhaber
The issue in this article is finding a balance between national security and the amount of spying by the NSA. With the president's recent plans many are worried about their personal privacy and how far the government will go with them. As the article stated, until last summer, the collection of information was secret. With its exposal came some false statements. Personally I think the government should focus more on immediate suspects and try to stay away from others. The safety of our country is also very important and should still be a top priority of our government. As Ruth from Texas stated in an earlier post, "Not everyone agrees with what our government is doing, but sometimes these plans are necessary for our own good."

4/6/2014
Sidney
Tresha Sanders
Sidney High School
The issue addressed in this article is whether tracking down suspected terrorists or protecting American citizens' privacy is more important and the government has already made their decision. People have the implied right to privacy, but apparently an organization that isn't being overseen by the president or Congress gets to obtain and store data on people they 'suspect' may want to harm the nation or the citizens residing in it. The changes the President says they're making don't really change much. They're not storing information but still looking at it. The NSA will use a panel of people from different backgrounds to review your personal information as 'unobtrusively' as possible but how can a group of strangers looking at your personal and private information be anything less than obtrusive? They're not looking at people that are three connections away but a person who is two connections away and might have nothing to do with the 'suspected terrorist' will have their privacy stripped from them. I understand wanting to keep everyone safe but infringing on the rights of the people you are trying to protect is not the way to solve the problem. I agree with Carmen that it's better to be safe than sorry but not at the expense of American citizens.

4/6/2014
Sidney/Montana
Taylor
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The big issue in this case is the fourth amendments right to privacy. Even though the NSA is a government agency to protect us from terrorism they also need some restrictions. If FISA as they said in the article approved all but one request are they actually keeping and oversight on the NSA? I think that the NSA needs more people to watch over them like the president has said in the article by putting the data in a different agency. The NSA can still protect the United States from terrorism if they are being kept track of. Many people have made comparisons of the NSA and Big Brother and the Thought police from the book 1984. If you have read this book this is scary because soon we could have zero privacy. Also i would have to greatly disagree with berenizes saying that ignorance is bliss because ignorance is what allowed the government in 1984 to control the people. We can balance privacy with national security but right now we are allowing are privacy to be taken over.

4/6/2014
Sidney/MT
Ariana
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
NSA has collected vast amounts of phone records from terror suspects, but they also collect phone records of American citizens and foreign leaders. Americans find this troubling because all of this information is collected without public review or approval from Congress or the president. Because of the public's concern Obama has promised to limit the NSA by amending the Patriot Act. This will help solve the issue of protecting Americans but with respect to their privacy and civil liberties. Bradley says, "I believe that the NSA program should still continue to protect the American people but should be limited to the amount of privacy it is intruding." I agree that the NSA are important in protecting the American people but they should have a limited amount of power and should definitely require oversight from Congress or the executive branch. Obama stressed that the collection of data will continue, clearly believing the NSA is necessary in protecting American citizens. But I believe the NSA's oversight should not be put above the privacy of Americans, and it is very important that the government balance this by limiting how far the NSA can go in collecting information.

4/5/2014
Sidney/MT
Rietta
Faulhaber/SHS
The issue in this article is how the U.S. should go about balancing privacy with national security in the NSA spy programs. Personally, I don't think that the government can balance both of them at the same time. I believe that they could do one or the other, but it would be a challenge to balance both. I agree with Vanessa; nobody wants something like the 9/11 attack to happen again, but who wants to feel like the are constantly being watched every second of the day. I think that the NSA should back off a bit. They should only follow the people that could possibly be involved in a terror attack due to their criminal history or peculiar behavior. I believe that protecting citizens from terror attacks is equally as important as the citizens right to privacy. I also agree with Vanessa that the NSA should step off a bit so that more citizens can learn to trust them with their privacy and safety. According to the article the executive branch and Congress have no oversight in the NSA program. The only program that did was the FISA, which authorized the surveillance program for NSA. Therefore, I feel that the NSA should have more oversight. If it doesn't gain more oversight, more and more people will continue to lose their trust in the program.

4/4/2014
Sidney MT
Michael
Mr. Faulhaber SHS
This issue is a very tough call. The choice between the ability of a program to be effective against the rights of the citizens. As Cash had said, forming a separate program isn't helpful at all. I feel that the government has become too strong, but it is necessary for the NSA to be able to access the information for the security of the American people.

4/4/2014
Sidney Montana
Colton
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
I believe the NSA spying on American and other foreign citizens is wrong and illegal. What we are talking about here is whether or not we are going to allow the loss of our freedom and liberty. James Madison once said “The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” The Patriot Act is a perfect example of what Madison was referring to.With NSA spying upon us is just one more way for us to lose our liberty little by little. The article stated that we didn't know about this spying until a whistle-blower told the world, had this bean in the best interest for us we would have been informed earlier. Contrary to most of the blogs from Irving, Texas the spying upon American citizens is wrong.

4/4/2014
Sidney/MT
Dominique
Mr Faulhaber/SHS
I believe the US should balance the privacy with the NSA. Also this is wrong, and illegal. The NSA infringes on all of our privacy everyday without authorization of the people. In the article it states that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) authorized the NSA to spy on the people. I do not think that is necessary or they should spy on all of us. Sure they should spy on people that are red flagged and have been caught in dealing with terrorism or any terror plots. It is wrong and sick. The article also states President Obama would like to create a new Government Agency to only house the data the NSA collects. That is pointless, we do not need any more government agencies running around ruining things. Even if the other agency is created and the NSA needs some data they will have to request the data from the agency. This would be a problem if the NSA is on to a red flagged person, it could cause problems, and very inconvenient. I disagree with everyone from Irving, TX when they say that the NSA is doing their job, or these spying programs being right. I specifically disagree with Ruth of Irving, TX when she says that these plans are necessary for our own good. The spying of the NSA is wrong, and illegal. I also think the other agency should not be created. This all needs to stop.

4/4/2014
Sidney/MT
Reanna Peterson
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue of this blog is whether or not our privacy and civil liberties should be stressed more importantly than the extensive ways and means of government agencies collecting data to protect citizens from terror attacks. The article describes the NSA, National Security Agency, and how it collects data and what it then does with it. They do so by by collecting and recording telephone calls, emails, and internet information. Some people, like Carmen from Irving, Texas, would argue that it is more important for the government to do what it needs to in order to keep us safe. Others however, suggest that it is more important for the government to stay out of our privacy now before they become like "Big Brother." President Obama's solution, to me, seems like an adequate balance. It involves both a smaller scope of American's being targeted by shrinking the length to two steps away. It also would insist on a new government agency developed to oversee the NSA and the data it collects. I think it would be a good balance for the NSA to have to request information that is being held. I think this would both secure privacy as well as keep us safe.

4/4/2014
Sidney/MT
Colin
Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue at hand is how to properly balance privacy with national security with the use of NSA spy programs. I believe that amendments to the Patriot Act in order to create a more private personal life should be enacted. I agree with Obama and that the length of connections surrounding terror suspects should be shrunk to two steps away. Even though there is not way to properly balance privacy with national security, I don't think that the NSA should be allowed to get phone records due to a "suspicion." I agree with Ty'Mira in her comment that if our phone calls are tracked that no one would feel safe. There is no proper way to balance privacy and national security. I feel that there should be amendments made though so that privacy is broadened.

4/4/2014
Sidney/MT
Lexi
Mr. Faulhaber/SHS
The issue of this article is whether the NSA is over or under stepping its boundaries on protection of American citizens. The government needs to balance the protection, so Americans feel safe but not have their rights infringed. I think the NSA should have a wide range of protection over the country. The Patriot Act was implemented to keep us safe over the terrorists. The NSA isn't the only place that is collecting our information, its going to happen regardless. The NSA might as well do it for protection purposes. I agree with Obama that the NSA should be less obstrusive. Janet from Nimitz makes a good point that it isn't possible for the government to balance protecting. Either we have too much protection or too little; some one is going to complain.

4/4/2014
Sidney/MT
Nicole Moore
Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue at hand is whether or not the NSA can and should track phone calls and other data usage. While the first amendment protects the freedom of speech, this right is not absolute. It becomes a question as to whether or not freedom of speech is more important than national security. Based on personal preference, I believe national security is more important and the NSA should continue to operate in the way it has. There are still ways for people to communicate without technology and therefore without tracking. While those communications could place a burden on people, people need to realize that national security is more important. It's noted that the president said, "he would shrink the length of connections surrounding terror suspects to two steps away." Why would he even tell people that? If you were a terrorist you would undermine the system and find ways around it. If Congress wants to change things, they really can't tell the public what they are doing, because terrorists are part of the public too. This sounds terrifying, but it's what has to been done. I also agree with Michael in that "the less you know, the better" and that we should trust the government on issues like this.

4/4/2014
Sidney,MT
Juan Aguilar
Mr.Faulhaber
The governmental issue in this article is on the NSA gathering data about US citizens. The issue comes from the Patriot Act which made it so the NSA would gather data about suspected terrorists but it has made it so they could gather information on US citizens which could go against the right to privacy. I believe every citizen has a right to privacy and the government does have an interest in stopping terrorists. Carmen has stated that if there is nothing to hide what's the big deal. Well I believe it is a big deal because there is information that even if it isn't bad you want kept private so you don't want the government to be looking at it. Also the article says how the NSA is basically operating without any oversight. I believe that is wrong there needs to be some rules and changes to this because if there really isn't any oversight anybody in the NSA can just go look at anybodies information that they want to and that is a violation of privacy. The government does have an interest in keeping Americans safe so they should make more regulations and make it so that they are only looking at peoples information that are truly terrorists.

4/4/2014
Sidney/Montana
Cash
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
The issue here is does a balance between protecting citizens from terror attacks and privacy protections exist. I believe that a balance between the two can exist if enough care and work is put into finding that balance. The reforms suggested by President Obama referenced in the article are a step in the right direction, though I do believe that creating a whole new agency while actually hinder the NSA's ability to protect us, and not eliminate the privacy concerns either. Some of you on this blog believe that any means are necessary and that if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have to worry, I say however, that if you let the government invade our privacy with out restraint in this issue, they will begin to take liberties in other areas

4/3/2014
Irving/TX
Carmen
Bradley/Nimitz High School
I believe the government can't necessarily balance, the protection as well as privacy due to the fact that, its better to be safe than sorry. Its perfectly understandable that citizens want and need privacy but if there's nothing to hide what's the big deal? The government doesn't do this to be curious, they do it for our own good, against any future attacks. I think that protection is more important than privacy. I rather the government know my personal info than risk our safety.

4/2/2014
Irving/Texas
Ty'Mira
Bradley/Nimitz
The Government can not balance protecting the U.S citizens without invading their privacy. If the NSA keeps track of all of our phone calls and text messages, then no-one has a sense of privacy, no on would feel safe. Someone would always be watching you. The NSA should absolutely not have less oversight because they can already see who we call, when we call and everything else. What exactly do they need to "hear" our conversations?

4/2/2014
Irving/TX
berenizes
Bradley/Nimitz
Ignorance is bliss comes out to play when talking about the United States and what they do to our privacy. The way I look at it is as long as the government is not misusing their programs and are successfully protecting us then I’m okay with not knowing whether they cross our privacy bubble a little. It is hypocritical for the American people to cling to the United States’ national security after terrorist activity and then when everything is calm to not want anything to do with their methods of protecting us. There should be a fair balance between national security and privacy. To achieve this, I believe that the NSA program should still continue to protect the american people but should be limited in the amount of privacy it is intruding.

3/31/2014
Irving/Texas
Michael Egeonu
Bradley/Nimitz
The government's job is to protect us the citzens. The saying " The Less You Know, The Better" applies to this question. We need faith and total trust in our government to handle matters like this and use the information if necessary.

3/31/2014
Irving/Teaxs
Joanielee
Bradley/Nimitz High School
Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims, this does not excluded natives of a country. Unless there is suspicion or evidence proving or suggesting that someone, whether they are a citizen on U.S. soil or not, there is not a reason to investigate. We have had incidents of terrorist attacks like shootings and murders everyday by native born Americans; there is no reason to discriminate against ourselves its patronizing our patriotism. I think the NSA having to ask for records is a little too much. It will slow the process of investigation and if the person has nothing to do with terrorism then there should not be an issue, just more work for the NSA.

3/31/2014
Irving/Texas
Kelsea
Bradley/Nimitz HS
There really is no balance when it comes to NSA surveillance and citizens’ privacy. It’s somewhat of a double standard. Do we, as citizens, want more protection from terrorist attacks such as 9/11, or do we want our privacy as expected when considering personal liberties? It’s a tough call for all involved, but I think the real question here is: how successful has the NSA been in catching terrorists through phone records before they strike? Why haven’t the positive aspects of the NSA been exploited if it’s in the American public’s best interest to keep the program around? I do not think that the NSA absolutely needs to keep the data collected from citizens’ phones, unless they are suspected of suspicious behavior. Personally, privacy is more important to me as a teenager. Privacy is everything to me. I understand that terrorism is no laughing matter and all measures to prevent it should be taken in the name of Americans’ safety, but I don’t think that it’s constitutional to be spied upon by the government. I believe that the NSA should be limited, but still able to protect society. A separate company that stores all the collected data is a great idea and the measures and steps that need to be taken to view said data is even better in my opinion. It is congress’ move now.

3/31/2014
Irving/Texas
Erin D
Bradley/Nimitz
America is big, the world is bigger, the possible threats posing against us are endless. That may sound vain to say, but it is true. NSA is critical to our well being, they act as a lookout, following possible leads that can catch terrorists before they wreak havoc on our homeland. I feel that people should understand that, if you have nothing to hide--you have nothing to fear. We are protected by the Fourth Amendment against unwarranted searches and seizures. Meaning, lets say you do have explicit material while they are analyzing and processing your material, if that material doesn’t pertain to terrorists or endangerment of the public, they can’t use it against you. So it doesn’t really matter what you do (pertaining to NSA reviewing) unless it can cause harm to America, your privacy is protected.

3/31/2014
Irving/Texas
Adam
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that the government should continue to do what they have been doing. Some people don’t like that there calls could be tracked, but they should understand its for there own good.We might feel uncomfortable knowing that the government could trace our phone call, but at the end of the day, there keeping us safe from harm. The government is trying to do there job by protecting us from terror attacks, it really shouldn't bother citizens unless they actually have something to hide. It seems like President Obama has proposed new laws that would help provide more privacy to citizens and hopefully Congress will agree with these new plans.

3/31/2014
Irving/Texas
Isabel
Bradley/Nimitz
The government should discern a fair balance between protecting its citizens’ from possible terrorist attacks and protecting its citizens’ privacies by implementing certain rules and regulations on the restriction of who they can keep track of. Since 9/11 we have been a more aware country of shady foreign affairs. To prevent the lack of insight we had previous to the fatal attack the NSA has simply been doing it’s job to further protect the safety of the American people. Though the idea of surveillance over their phones and internet data may be repulsed by the majority of Americans, the government’s intentions are, or at least should be, to solely focus on the protection of its citizens’. In doing so, the NSA should not limit their oversight, but rather devote their efforts towards people of real concern. Obama’s compromise seems to be on the right track to finding this balance that will be much appreciated by the American public.

3/31/2014
Irving/TX
Janet
Bradley/Nimitz
I don't think it is possible for the government to balance protecting citizens from terror attacks with civil liberties and privacy because it isn't for the citizens to have complete privacy; we only have privacy to a certain extent. To me, it's more important for us to be protected against any terrorist or harm, and to ensure this protection we have to do what is our civil duty, even if it means sacrificing our privacy over the phone. However, I do like the fact that Obama assigned advocates to overhaul the surveillance programs because it makes us feel like we can trust that their actually doing their job. After all, we actually like to feel like we have some trust in our government and this is a way we can have that.

3/31/2014
Irving/TX
Sarah L
Bradley/Nimitz High School
Honestly, what Obama has proposed seems like a good plan to me. If I have nothing to hide, then I’m not going to be worried - just like the people of America. I understand it is concerning to some just because our private life is seemingly open like a book, but Obama has made it clear that “the privacy and civil liberties of citizens are to be protected while allowing the agency to do its job.” Of course our privacy is important, but so is our country’s overall well being. I personally would rather have my phone conversation overheard, than to have a terrible event that could have been prevented happen. Since we are not behind the screening process, I truly believe the NSA knows how to handle data collection.

3/30/2014
Irving/Texas
Jose L
Bradley/Nimitz
First of all it was very helpful for the president to try and step forward and try to balance the NSA programs with the citizens. I don’t think people take that into consideration that our government is just trying to protect us. Even when we get all stirred up about having our privacy minimally compromised the government comes out with another plan to “not hurt our feelings” I would say. It’s part of the NSA’s job to be secretive in order to execute their duties. I find it really disrespectful to the government for us to complain when they could be saving our lives. The reason they have programs like that is because the NSA has learned their faults after 9/11. They don’t what that or anything like it to happen again. We as citizens who are being protected should just comply with the type of balance they are trying to establish between us. It isn’t their intention to intrude into our lives and make us feel uncomfortable but to protect us in the comfort of a safe nation.

3/30/2014
Irving/TX
Sarah V
Bradley/Nimitz
The government should balance citizens’ protection and the citizens’ privacy concerns by limiting the scope of people from whom they collect data. The NSA shouldn't have less oversight, but they should direct their resources to monitoring the people who could be potentially dangerous, instead of gathering data from people who are distantly associated with someone who may be a terrorist. Privacy and protection go hand in hand, and one should not be lessened in order to enhance the condition of the other. The compromise proposed by Obama appears to be a satisfactory balance of both protection and privacy of the citizens.

3/29/2014
Irving/Texas
Milton
Bradley/Nimitz
To be completely honest, by listening to a citizens conversation, no harm is done. The NSA is just doing its job. If you have nothing to hide then why would it matter if somebody listens to a conversation about you doing something or something you said. I mean who are they going to tell, your arch enemy (I highly doubt that somebody has one unless that person is involve in illegal activities). Obviously finding out about terrorist attacks is more important than civil liberties concerns and well as of now the balance is fine. Nobody has been hurt ( I think) by the NSA eavesdropping on somebodies personal conversation. They should just delete the conversations that pose no national harm and well the oversight should stay the same or raised a little bit that way we feel safer.

3/28/2014
Irving/ Texas
Vanessa Dania
Bradley/ NImitz
It is hard to say if the government can balance protecting citizens with privacy and civil liberties concerns. On one hand, no one wants something like 9/11 to happen again, but on the other hand, who wants to feel unsafe and violated while checking their email? Even if the NSA is just looking for anyone or anything that is a threat to the nation, it is in the human nature to not want our privacy to be broken and boundaries crossed. When a terrorist attack happens we look to the government as of to say why couldn't you stop this from happening? But when he aren't being threatened the last thing we want is for the government to have eyes in everything that we do. Protecting citizens from terror attacks with privacy is not more or less important than their civil liberties. The NSA definitely needs to step off a bit, so that citizens can trust their privacy and safety to them.

3/28/2014
Irving/Tx
Ruth
Bradley/Nimitz
Not everyone always agrees with what our government is doing,but sometimes these plans are necessary for our own good. Lowering national security does not sound so good, specially lowering it because a few people complain about their calls being recorded.We need to have faith in our government and trust that they will only use information that is necessary,after all we rely on them for safety. Safety is more important than a few recorded phone calls.

3/27/2014
Irving/Texas
Kimberly
Bradley/Nimitz
The U.S. Government will always have projects that citizens will not agree with, but these projects do hold a vital role in protecting us. National security should not be lowered because a couple people are worried that the government is going to record a call that they had with a mistress. If we truly trusted the government we would understand they they are tracking information through meticulous planning and in our best interests. The new laws being imposed by Obama sound thorough and a good compromise, lets just hope that Congress thinks so.

3/20/2014
Sidney MT
Brad Faulhaber
Rylee Peterson
The government needs to stay out of our business. They should only follow people who are red flagged due to criminal history or have communistic attitudes.

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