Crossing a line of privacy

I was troubled by a recent discussion with a friend concerning Edward SnowdenÕs revelations about the National Security AgencyÕs surveillance program.

My friend seemed rather indifferent towards the NSA infringing upon his rights to Inter- net privacy.

He claimed he has nothing to worry about because he does not engage in any illegal Internet activities.

I beg to differÑthe NSAÕs domestic surveillance program represents an enormous threat to our freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression and privacy are intimately linked. When the NSA undermines our privacy rights, it also infringes upon AmericansÕ right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution.

Frankly, you cannot have the free flow of information so crucial to healthy democratic societies if you have to fear you are being watched by your government.

I also find the hypocrisy of the US government quite troubling. The United States prides itself as an outspoken champion of Internet freedom globally.

Hillary Clinton routinely criticized other governments for systematic repression of Internet users in countries like China, Iran and Belarus during her tenure as Secretary of State.

While our Internet freedoms are largely respected, they become imperiled when Washington completely ignores ordinary AmericansÕ Internet privacy.

Furthermore, our free speech is endangered by virtue of the Obama administrationÕs attempt to extradite and prosecute Edward Snowden for espionage, despite the fact that many legal experts view his actions as legitimate whistleblowing.

To my friend and others who are not thoroughly outraged by the NSA spying revelations.

I believe when you fail to speak up for everybodyÕs rightsÑ including the right to free speech and Internet privacy.

Be prepared for your own rights to be taken away when you least expect it.

We must fight for the society we want to live in, which includes vigorous preservation of our constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.

One small step is simply calling, emailing or lobbying your local Senator to support the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act introduced earlier this year in the Senate.

This bill will largely ensure our right as American citizens to privacy and freedom of expression.