How Surveillance Impacts Us

By: Taran Rao

Why should the NSA be able to spy on citizens of the USA?

The NSA should be able to spy on citizens of the USA as it protects them from hackers as well as identifying possible leads on terrorism.

Backround information on the NSA

The NSA was formed after the 9/11 attack by the government with new and improved methods to track terrorists. The NSA spies on private information to catch hackers of foreign nations attempting to gain access to crucial USA information. Against public opinion, unlocked phones are crucial to gain information on terrorist attacks. This information could be invaluable in the preventing terrorist attacks like the San Bernardino shootings from ever happening. Despite popular opinion, the NSA has focused all of its efforts in finding terrorists and does not abuse its power.


  • Regarding the San Bernardino shooting, the author of the article "Surveillance Protects Us", William Bratton, "The phone in the San Bernardino case stopped uploading data to the cloud about six weeks before the killings. That suggests that there may be more information inside the device that was deliberately concealed." The author states that phones should be accessed to prevent terrorist attacks.
  • In the article "Surveillance and privacy" by Charlie Savage, "So the N.S.A., in 2012, began pressing to go back to the surveillance court and seek permission to use the program explicitly for cybersecurity purposes. That way, it could monitor international communications for any "malicious cyberactivity," even if it did not yet know who was behind the attack." The author states that the NSA is used for the purpose of protecting US citizens from hackers' cyber attacks.
  • In regard to the NSA's main purpose, this is a quote from Alan Charles Raul from his article "Origin of The Natural Security Agency", "First, it is important to acknowledge that after 9/11, then-President George W. Bush and Congress cooperated, for the most part, to provide intelligence agencies and law enforcement with new tools to find and fight the terrorists, the bulk of which were necessary updates and not controversial." In this quote, the author states that the NSA was created mainly to fight and protect its citizens from terrorism.
  • In the article "The NSA and Foreign Coutries", author Charlie Savage says, "The Justice Department allowed the agency to monitor only addresses and "cyber signatures" -- patterns associated with computer intrusions -- that it could tie to foreign governments." Charlie Savage means that the NSA spies on foreign soil only to find cyber terrorists.
  • In the article "Origin of The National Security Agency" by Alan Charles Raul, he says, "But the key takeaway has to be that neither USA Today, nor Snowden, nor any investigative journalist since has shown that this program was being used for any purpose other than to protect us from terrorists. This was also true of Bush's warrant-less terrorist surveillance program, as well as the so-called PRISM program, through which the NSA and FBI are alleged to have obtained communications about foreign parties from U.S.-based communication service providers." Alan Raul simply states that the NSA is only used for fighting terrorists and hackers.

Counter Argument

Many people believe that by trusting the NSA to review data on our phones would render our privacy exposed to random employees of the NSA. However, an article by Alan Charles Raul states, "There is no need to trade privacy for security. Rather, the post-9/11 record demonstrates that we can monitor aggressively if we also remain equally committed to the compensating system of checks, balances, oversight and other safeguards that can prevent abuses and excesses that would offend the values that make us Americans. Let's be sure we keep it that way."