I am currently in a Freedom of Expression class, so this article caught my attention, as it is a current issue concerning our freedom in this country. I agree with Seema Sadanandan on the fact that there really isn’t much evidence that the Patriot Act is reaping results for its purpose. It would be one thing if the government was catching terrorists left and right through this spying, but that is not the case. It seems like most terrorists are smart enough to avoid revealing any plans or identities over email or any of these outlets that are being monitored anyway.
These leakers, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are brave to stand up for what they believe is right, and I commend them for that. I know the government believes they are doing this for the protection of the country, and I, too, believe it was worth a try. But I feel like this Act has had well beyond long enough to prove its worth, which is none compared to the liberty we are giving up. Clearly this attitude has spread to enough citizens that they are willing to march in protest about it. Hopefully the government will pay attention.
As someone who is currently studying free expression and constitutional law at Middle Tennessee State University, the issue of the Snowden and Assange leaks fall somewhere in a gray area. Are we granted a right to privacy explicitly in the constitution? No, but in1965 in the landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut the Court held that this right to privacy was found in the “penumbras and emanations” of other constitutional rights.
That being said, none of the rights granted to us, either explicitly or implicitly, are absolute. The executive, judiciary, and legislature have time and time again placed restrictions and regulations on citizens’ rights. In order to do this though they must have a justification. They can’t just inhibit someone’s right to privacy for no reason at all and, in my opinion, the justification may be lacking in this case. There seems to be little reason to view a citizen’s online activity without warrant. For that reason, I am glad that people who feel strongly about the issue are organizing and taking this opportunity to peacefully protest.
There is also an issue of a Fourth Amendment violation here. The Fourth Amendment provides protections to US Citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Granted no physical search or seizure has taken place here but the Supreme Court has held, in Katz v. United States, that no physical trespass needs to occur in order for a Fourth Amendment violation to occur.
As a mass communications student at Middle Tennessee State University, I have been following Edward Snowden and Julian Assange in the news for a while now. I’ve been curious to see how far the American government will go to gradually strip civil liberties in the name of defeating terrorism. As the government cracks down on privacy, with acts such as the PATRIOT Act and the National Defense Authorization Act, the need for individuals like Assange And Snowden as grown exponentially. When it became public knowledge that the Obama administration has “pursued the most aggressive ‘war on leaks’ since the Nixon administration,”according to The Guardian, whistleblowers and journalists have fallen into a chilling effect, silencing many voices. The news media outlets are sometimes referred to as “the fourth estate”, serving to check the other branches of government and inform the people. With journalists spied on, their research subpoenaed, and personal devices hacked, many are too afraid to speak out. At what point do we the American people say “enough”? This is why I was glad I found this article and that I am now aware that people are finally speaking up against all of the countless unnecessary invasions of privacy. I do believe that the PATRIOT Act may have served a purpose in the years immediately following September 11, 2001, but the bill should have been allowed to expire. Instead, the bill is not set to expire again until 2015. Since the PATRIOT Act is not expiring any time soon, and the NSA has gone rampant with spying, I believe now is a great time for Americans to join together to protect their privacy.
For more information, see: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/18/glenn-greenwald-guardian-partner-detained-heathrow
I have to chuckle when those who are on face book or tweet or yak on their cell phone in public complain about the Government invading their "privacy". Those folks really are out of touch with todays world.