1984 and Privacy

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U.S. Surveillance Affecting Civil Liberties

Many Americans are being watched, in great detail, by the government. In its ongoing battle against crime and terrorism, the U.S. has ramped up its surveillance on individuals over the years. As in the book, 1984, by George Orwell, "Big Brother Is Watching You". Many people feel that this surveillance is a major invasion of privacy and a violation of their rights.

The USA PATRIOT Act was rushed through Congress 45 days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism", and extremely broadens the authority of U.S. law enforcement to conduct investigations. Agencies can conduct a variety of data collections on an individual with almost no warrant. "If the government has any suspicion it can subpoena bank, phone, internet, and even library records with a National Security Letter, which doesn't need court approval."(Chu) The National Security Agency, or NSA, is a top-secret agency believed to have the most advanced information vacuuming technology available, similar to the technology used to monitor people in 1984. "In the past, intercepting communications meant just that--copying a telegram mid-route, steaming open an envelope, or attaching alligator clips to the copper wires that connected every phone in the world."(Fordahl) These became extinct as we moved into the digital age; it is now easier than ever to access mass amounts of data. Many people fear that this is turning out to be a fast path to mass surveillance. "You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized".(Orwell 5) Living in a democracy, most of us can not relate to this quote, but the NSA conducts countless warrant-less wiretaps and requires networks to be tap-friendly. They have collected detailed information from...
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