The Fringe


Why the NSA worries me...


There are many in this nation who don't seem concerned with the revelations of Edward Snowden and the actions of the NSA. The most common reason for this ambivalence seems to be something along the lines of "I'm not doing anything wrong, the government has no reason to worry about me, I'm just an average citizen. Therefore, this doesn't really affect me." Many would even concede that this is an important issue, and that the government is acting wrongly, but it's hard to get worked up over something that doesn't cause the average person any inconvenience or disruption in their lives.

I completely understand this sentiment. There are many issues in this world that I would consider to be important, but don't affect me directly and immediately, so I don't get all that worked up over them. Disease, poverty, third world labor conditions, global warming, foreign wars, etc. I haven't actively worked to effect change in any of these world issues, yet I would say that they are all important. The problems seem too big and too distant for me to make any significant contribution, so I stand by and wish things could change, and sleep just fine at night.

The NSA spying issue is similar. I am in no position to effect real change, and I am not significant enough for my government to expend resources monitoring me. I am not being limited in my speech, and have committed no illegal activity. Therefore, I will go on with my life relatively unchanged.

But what if I was in a position to effect change? What if I, like Snowden, had information that could threaten the status quo, to alter the balance of power in this country, to bring the authority of government back to the people, and away from the wealthy and powerful? What if I could somehow expose corruption in our government?

I don't have that power, but maybe someone does. Maybe someone is in a position to blow the whistle, to alter public opinion, to effect change. I want that person to be able to speak, to be able to communicate their message without being discredited or arrested or worse before they get the chance to speak.

My data is being subjected to "unreasonable search and seizure." Big deal; no one will find anything there that is all that interesting or unique. But I hope that someone out there has information that is interesting, information that can bring about change. I want that person to be protected by our constitution.

So, what can I do? How can I oppose government overreach to make sure citizens are afforded the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights? I guess the standard advice works here: contact congressmen, vote based on the issues, maybe write a letter to your newspaper. I don't know if any of that will accomplish anything. Mostly, my life will go on unaffected. I write this post not to tell you how to respond, but to identify why Americans should be concerned or even outraged over the actions of the NSA. Maybe, if this issue is given the priority that it deserves in the American public consciousness, change will come about. That is my hope.

Valuable resources:

Frontline: The United States of Secrets

Lavabit secure email shutdown story

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