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Cary Brunswick

January 21, 2014

We shouldn't trade privacy for security


“But let us remember that we are held to a different standard precisely because we have been at the forefront in defending personal privacy and human dignity.”

Yes, we are held to a different standard, but now apparently we have been willing to toss that aside for the same reasons as those less-free nations we criticize.

It is hard to understand why Americans so easily accepted the trade of their freedom for security. I have heard people say, ``hey, I don’t have anything to hide, so if the NSA wants to check on the dinner plans I made in a phone call or text, so be it.’’

Speaking Friday, Obama announced some reforms to the NSA spying, but overall the speech left the program intact, much to the dismay of the people and groups who do care about their freedom and privacy.

The president said he would place some restrictions on the way the NSA gains access to Americans’ phone records, adding that he would like to get the surveillance operation into the private sector and out of the government’s hands.

The latter idea offers no consolation at all. Corporations already are spying on the lifestyle choices of Americans. We certainly do not need the NSA to turn its surveillance program to what would amount big business.

Obama vowed to terminate the government’s storage of the data it collects from spying on Americans’ telephone calls, and mandate judicial review before it can examine that data. However, how would we ever know that is happening, since it all is kept secret? We would need another Snowden to let Americans know what really is occurring.

In addition, the president is leaving it up to Congress to tackle any substantial reforms to NSA spying, which is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. It was Congress, after all, that approved the laws on which the justification for citizen surveillance is based. Lawmakers are not likely to do much to curtail spying, no matter whether it’s being done by the NSA or some big-brother corporation.

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Cary Brunswick

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