We were warned, but we didn’t listen.
In 2013 Edward Snowden exposed how the National Security Agency was surveilling U.S. citizens under the guise of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and other counterterrorism measures.
Intended to allow intelligence agencies to prevent terrorism, the law resulted in millions of Americans’ private information being collected, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
This includes your private emails, text messages and video recordings which are obtained through “about surveillance,” where the NSA can demand data from companies like Facebook and Google about anyone who has come in contact with a suspected foreign agent.
According to the Washington Post, half of the files in the database contained American’s private information, including us college students.
In January, Congress voted to reauthorize the bill, enshrining it further into the American legal system.
Section 702 allows any of 15 federal agencies to search a database containing millions of Americans’ personal communication without a warrant for crimes unrelated to terrorism, according to the ACLU.
This blatant and egregious miscarriage of the law’s intended purpose also violates American’s fourth amendment right to not be searched without a warrant.
There is little evidence that the law is effective in its primary goal of preventing terrorism, as the NSA refuses to provide any information on how the collected data is utilized.
An investigation by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, another governmental agency, showed that intelligence agencies often fail to report why they search the database or even record their searches, resulting in a lack transparency and a lack of accountability for their actions.
Some might claim that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing fear, but that’s not how American law works. We must demand that our rights be protected by those who are supposed to represent our interests, .
Our Congress has unilaterally disregarded our rights to privacy and protection from the law in a haphazard and misguided attempt to promote a security method that no one has shown to be effective.
Congress’ actions are an insult to the American people and infringe on our rights. As college students we must act swiftly to tell those we elected in the strongest possible language, that what they are doing is morally indefensible and a disservice to American democracy.