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NSA Defies Constitutional Limitations on Data Collection

The US National Security Agency (NSA) and its director, James R. Clapper, are spying on ordinary citizens, collecting mass quantities of data and claiming that it is perfectly legal since human eyes are not actually viewing the material. By redefining terms they have been able to push the boundaries of their power, which defies a current US law, enacted in 1968, to collect our personal data unknowingly. NSA data collection also violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The NSA has been collecting personal information through phone call records, e-mail and IM contact lists, as well as online conversations. Author Representative Jim Senenbrenner has stated that the Patriot Act does not allow what NSA practices. The director of the NSA is on record lying to Congress about such practices.

General Keith Alexander has stated that the NSA has strict rules against employees accessing the obtained data. The NSA is only allowed to review data that is useful towards the investigation of terrorist acts but the guidelines keep broadening. It is strongly suspected that the NSA has anonymously shared  information with the DEA and IRS. A massive amount of data is tempting to the government for use in other applications, as well as a target for foreign and domestic hackers and criminals. The main problem with the NSA collecting our personal data is that once they possess it, it is no longer our own individual property; it can no longer be altered or removed and is at the mercy of others. How is this damaging to the American public? The more power the NSA is granted the more panoptic the surveillance becomes. Panoptic surveillance changes the way that humans behave–they become more controlled and compliant and less individual in the fear of being punished.


Bruce Schneier, “Why the NSA’s Defense of Mass Data Collection Makes No Sense”The Atlantic, October 21, 2013,

Student Researcher: Sofia Martinez, Barbara Stockham, Chrisawna Porter, Amanda Mallory, Jonny Kenney, Kimyen Le, Rebeca Sanchez. (Santa Rosa Junior College)

Faculty Evaluators: Susan Rahman (Santa Rosa Junior College)


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