Discoverer In the News: NSA Scandal

Computer Keyboard and Hard Drive <br > Defense Logistics Agency, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Computer Keyboard and Hard Drive
by Defense Logistics Agency, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

The U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Agency, known as the NSA, has the authority to gather information on foreign terrorists and spies through extensive computer and phone surveillance. This power is monitored by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and many rules govern this surveillance, such as acquiring warrants to access phone records. But the agency’s practices have been in question, such as in 2006, when  Americans learned that the agency was tapping the nation’s phone conversations.

On June 6, the details of a classified NSA program called PRISM were leaked to the press. Edward Snowden, who worked for the NSA, thought that this program was unethical and wanted the American people to know that their online privacy was being invaded. So he shared secret information about PRISM with journalists. He told the press that, through the PRISM program, NSA workers could access the main servers of nine U.S. Internet companies, meaning that the agency could view emails, videos, audio, photographs, and other documents of both U.S. citizens and people living in other countries.

Some people are supporting Snowden’s decision to reveal what he knows about PRISM. They believe, as he did, that the program violates Americans’ privacy rights. Others are calling Snowden a traitor, trusting that the U.S. government is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. What do you think? Visit this month’s Discoverer In the News, read over the article, and decide for yourself. Check out the accompanying editorial cartoon…what does it say about government surveillance and privacy rights?

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