With the prevalence of the Internet, an American’s security of private information is at an all time low. Government agencies like the NSA (National Security Association) have potential access to personal information for all United States citizens. While nobody really knows how much the NSA takes advantage of their access to information, it is certainly possible for the government to monitor seemingly private conversations and files.

According to this article, the NSA’s wiretapping agency “has been monitoring communications between the US and foreign nationals over the internet for a number of years, under a project called Prism.” They have had the ability to monitor communications via the Internet since 1995. The NSA has the ability to monitor “email, chat (video, voice), videos, photos, stored data, VoIP [internet phone calls], file transfers, video conferencing, notifications of target activity – logins etc, online social networking details” and another category called “special requests”. They are able to monitor this information via “routers” (from private companies) that direct Internet traffic. These companies deny being affiliated with such invasions.

While the government is able to monitor the actions of every citizen, they are not allowed to as it would be a breach of the Fourth Amendment. The NSA may only use their unwarranted searching power if there is probable cause. That means that the average citizen’s information is relatively private from the government; there is not the time to constantly monitor the entire population’s phone calls or emails. However, the line between legitimate surveillance and otherwise is blurry, as is the legality behind it. It is difficult to determine when security should overrule privacy.

CC BY-SA 4.0 To what extent is the U.S. government monitoring its citizens? by Sam is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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