Edward Snowden Debate

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The opinions of average people on Edward Snowden are extremely polarized. Some people paint Snowden as a hero, loyal to democracy and exposing the evils of big government (“Securing Our Libery” 5). Other people label him as a traitor, endangering the lives of United States citizens and soldiers, since the enemy now knows more about our intelligence system (Walsh “Privacy Versus Security” 11). It is worth mentioning though, that even though Snowden says that he did everything to protect democracy in the nation he loves, he has chosen to take refuge in Hong Kong and Russia, countries that aren’t exactly known for their focus on democratic ideals (“Securing Our Liberty” 5).

Poster showing the public support for Edward Snowden and his leaking
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Well, one of the reasons is that it isn’t completely unrestricted by technicality. The NSA has to follow restrictions put in place by something called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC (Stray np). Things haven’t always been clear about this group, though. It was created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to stop government eavesdropping, but all information about it was kept confidential and was unknown to the public until the Snowden leaks (Greenwald 27). The FISC does not fully stop the NSA from exceeding legal boundaries, however. In 2009, the Justice Department admitted that the collection of data by the NSA had “exceeded legal limitations” and later on in 2011, the FISC said that the NSA had violated the Fourth Amendment at least once (Stray…show more content…
One example is the FISA Amendments Act, specifically Section 702 which specifically allows for the collection of online data by the NSA (Drum 33). This was originally signed by George W. Bush in 2008, and it was renewed by President Barack Obama for five years in 2012 (Vicens 29). Another law regarding surveillance is the Stored Communications Act. Primarily, the SCA has been used to justify the storage of emails, but the storage of IP addresses was also justified in one court case involving inappropriate content being sent from a Yahoo! account. (“National Security Agency Surveillance Overview” np). There are countless other laws and court cases that mold and shape the idea of government surveillance, as just about anything involving the government’s access to information online can change the game
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