My first question that started my inquiry was “How is our online activity being tracked?” I chose this topic because of the current events going on today with Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks release on the US governments mass surveillance capabilities. In my future career I hope to pursue a career in the FBI, therefore I want to feel moral in the work I am doing. As I continued my research I looked into who was watching me online and what they were doing with this information. I found that the big tech companies were collecting data on pretty much every search that I put into my computer as well as any emails, texts, and calls. The companies use this information to create an online profile so that they can form their ads to your preferences. They have been caught in some cases selling the information. Edward Snowden released information that proved that the National Security Agency was using these companies data collection for the “anti-terrorism” tactics. These programs were kept secret because they had obvious citizen right violations. Many even claim that their reason (terrorism preventative measures) was just a ploy to try and get information on targets in country without the need for a warrant. Now many people even after these recent revelations still stick to their passive acceptance of this invasion. The phrase “if you did not have something to hide you would not be worried” is on constant repeat to those trying to warn others what allowing the government to take away our privacy will do to us. It is just a flawed way of thinking because nobody needs any of their rights until the time comes but we still have them for us as protection. This line of thinking automatically assumes an uncorrupt and all knowing (good) government which is not the case. People can become corrupt in power and if you give them complete control over you then what is to stop them from using it. So throughout this process of investigation through the inquiry process I was trying to decide my own stance on the matter. I pretty much created a pros and cons list of the surveillance technology being used right now. The benefits included relevant ads instead of random useless ones popping up all over and the obvious use of the technology as a preventative crime tactic. Ofcourse after our country going through the 9/11 attacks it can be understood how preventing such a tragedy again would be crucial. However, at what cost and where do we draw the line? This brings up the downsides to this new technology. With these new methods the use of warrants has become a nonexistent requirement, which is not how law should function with a foundation built on “innocent until proven guilty.” Another factor is that this information is collected and stored somewhere and could hurt us if the wrong people got their hands on it. It all really comes down to the basic fact that this information has been being taken from us without our knowledge or recognized consent which makes this a generally shady tactic.
Now the question that I have concluded with is how we will be able to protect our privacy in this technological age. One method I read about would be an a clarification on the 4th ammendment that includes online activity as personal property. The federal government has already ruled a few of the NSA’s programs as illegal and reformed the Patriot Act. However more action and continued debates on this topic are definitely needed before we reach a good point of control over this situation and people like Edward Snowden really help us do that.