The United States government should not be able to willingly spy on its citizens. Many people feel that government spying has nothing to do with them because they are not terrorists or criminals. Which is not true, Congress has passed a law allowing government spying on all phone calls and emails starting in the US and going out of the country, without a court order. In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, The USA PATRIOT Act was quickly developed by the Bush administration as a means by which the government could hope to put an end to terrorism.
Giving almost unlimited anti-privacy powers to domestic law enforcement and international intelligence agencies, it virtually eliminates checks and balances that previously gave courts the opportunity to ensure that those powers were not abused. Therefore, the Patriot Act threatens the basic liberties and freedoms of millions of Americans, and the courts can do little in helping them to keep them. With seemingly unlimited authority, the federal government can target and spy on any American citizen by using surveillance equipment.
Most commonly, the federal government uses wire-tapping devices on a citizen’s telephone lines. In The Patriot Act the government says it has the “…authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism, computer fraud and abuse offenses” and if they find it necessary, have the “authority to share criminal investigative information” with anyone, including other regular American citizens. They may also record and confiscate all voice-mail messages.
This is not only a complete and utter violation of the constitution and the bill of rights but our privacy as well. The Bill of Rights Amendment IV: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, houses, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or place to be searched.
” The only way to do this is by gathering evidence which in some cases is spying by the proper authorities, like the police. We also have the right to be safe and secure in our own homes. As an American citizen, we all value our rights to privacy, speech, and pursuit of happiness. These are rights guaranteed to us by our forefathers and their forward thinking. However, the tragedies of 9/11 have changed the way in which we must view our rights.
I believe that there are a few issues involved with the issue of spying. First, there must be probable cause to do so. The standards for individual right incrimination cannot rely on a gut feeling or profiling. Second, the government agency must be able to police itself and be held to standards and accountability in order to grant these infringements. In conclusion, we must first define the situations in which “legalized” spying should occur, and then define who will grant and police these situations.