AP Government Post #3

The federal government has stepped up surveillance of citizens in the name of combating  a terrorist threat, many issues like this deal with civil liberties and civil rights and are brought to the foreground of American politics.  How much information should the federal government have about the private lives of American citizens?

This post will close on Friday November 16 at 5:00 PM

69 thoughts on “AP Government Post #3

  1. For over a decade, American politics has steadily evolved into demanding a push for more surveillance on the lives of both American citizens (and often, with more emphasis) immigrants from other countries. While the intention behind this was good— keeping the American citizen safe and finding potential terrorists before disaster strikes— it has become an increased infringement of civil liberties and rights with seemingly few results. Terrorist attacks (mass shootings in particular) seem to only increase as surveillance increases. While this may or may not be true, it doesn’t bode well for the already polarized nation, as people grow increasingly wary of the surveillance in their lives. Especially when it feels as though terrorist acts are only increasing.
    I feel as thought there should be a decrease in information about the private lives of citizens except for obvious factors/elements that may lead to violent attacks (mental health, possession of weapons, etc.).
    I don’t know everything, though, so I may be incorrect in my assumptions. This is based off my perception of others.

    • I didn’t even really think about the fact that attacks seem to increase even though more surveillance was created to attain the opposite effect. A shooting is in the news just about every day post- 9/11, and maybe I’m wrong, but they seem to be more present than ever. Perhaps this is because most of these tragedies are a result of domestic terrorism and we as a country seem to only care about terrorism coming from other countries. If shootings continue to happen at this rate, then I don’t know if surveillance is really all that effective at curbing violence.

  2. The federal government shouldn’t have any information on the private lives of American citizens. This is because people should be assumed innocent, and for the government to need to know everything about someone’s private life looks like they are assuming everyone is doing a crime. Private life should only need to be taken into question for a government job, or for a criminal investigation.

    • I disagree. The government should have any information needed that could be traced into possible terrorism. It is understandable that we as Americans follow the “innocent until proven guilty” way of trials, but the protection of national security should allow the government the necessary private information that could possibly lead to an attack. Also, if one is not guilty of such things, then why would we need to worry about the government having the information?

    • I somewhat disagree, while I feel the average citizen should enjoy some autonomy form the gazeful watch of the government, I feel those who have made questionable statements or support questionable groups should be watched/scrutinized by the Government.

      • Exactly, I agree with Zach. Having no information on people available to the government would seem to create a greater fear for national security.

    • I also disagree. I believe that the government should do what is necessary to ensure the safety of our country. We would like to assume that everyone is innocent, however that is simply not our reality. The government should have the ability to investigate one’s private life if given a reason or if it poses a threat in any way. One should not be too bothered by this idea unless they are guilty of something. One should trust that information of one’s private life is safe in the hands of the federal government.

  3. The increase of information the federal government has on private lives of American citizens has certainly increased since 9/11. However, contrary to many, I think the federal government can have all the information they want when it comes to national security. Many believe they are consistenly spying us when there are billions of people in the US alone. The information they ask for is to make sure there is less terrorism so why should allow for terrorists to be further protected by rights we as Americansshould simply allow the government to have.

    • I agree, if something is being done in the name of safety then I don’t have much of an issue with it as long as boundaries aren’t crossed unnecessarily.

    • I agree that the federal government should have all the information they need if they are using it to protect the country as a whole. However, I feel like they should also have a valid reason or proof elsewhere before they begin such invasive surveillance on someone.

      • I agree with Mia. They have to tell the public why they need it or else they’ll get backlash for it. With all the backlash the government gets already, it’s surely a possibility that they don’t – and won’t. Hopefully it doesn’t come to the latter.

    • I agree that it is necessary for the government to be able to collect information in the name of national security. Some boundaries should be set, but overall they should be allowed to gather that sort of information.

  4. As terrorist attacks have become more prevalent over time, and American safety has been threatened, the amount of surveillance that has been done by the government has definitely increased. However, I do not believe this is a violation of civil liberties in many cases. It is done to protect the American people, and it is really hard to protect someone’s civil liberties when their very right to life is being threatened. The only stipulation I would add is that the American people should know that the surveillance is being carried out, something that has not been done in the past.

    • I agree that since Americans are in danger, the government should be allowed access to the personal lives of Americans in order to protect them. Safety is the main concern of the government and in order to accomplish this they need to keep surveillance of the citizens.

      • It’s a question of which right one believes is greater – privacy or life? Personally, I’d rather live with a little less privacy.

        I agree with you in the fact that the public SHOULD be told that they’re under surveillance. Some buildings have signs stating that their property is under surveillance, so why can’t the government do something similar? Perhaps that’s the point – they don’t want people to sabotage them. However, the public should know HOW they’re under surveillance, even if not where and when.

    • I agree, and I think that the whole question of whether or not mass surveillance violated the idea of civil liberties is ultimately irrelevant. Even if surveillance was to violate the civil liberties of citizens, this is done to protect the American people. And that being said, I completely agree with you on the fact that the American people have a right to know about what surveillance the government is carrying out. People like Edward Snowden shouldn’t be labeled as traitors for pointing out the surveillance of the government, even though I find mass surveillance to be necessary for the protection of the people.

  5. I believe the federal government should only have some information about the private lives of American citizens. They should not have too much because that might infringe on our right for privacy and make people very warry of what they do. The government is just trying to keep everyone safe, but they should not need to know every detail of peoples lives to know whether or not these people are a danger. They should not know every detail, but they should have basic information about every citizen in the US or at least the citizens should know that they are being observed. Maybe we should get to choose how much information we give out, though basic information should be required.

    • I agree with you, and I like that you brought up how the reaction of the people affects the intent of the infringement in a negative way.

    • I agree with you to an extent, but I think the government should be allowed to have every detail about a person if there’s any suspicion that they may cause harm to the country. They’re definitely infringing on a person’s right to privacy if they take all of their information without a need, but otherwise they’re just looking out for our country.

    • I can agree that not every segment of a person’s life should be investigated by the federal government. It should not take extremely personal information to serve as an indication of a possible threat. However, I do believe that, in any case, that information should be observed if it is a possible national threat.

  6. Personally, I believe that in order to protect the safety of the citizens of America the government should have extensive access to the lives of the citizens. If you have nothing to hide then I don’t see what the problem is. I would rather be able to feel safe in my county than not have the government listen in to my phone conversation or hack my laptop. Terrorist attacks are a huge threat to Americans and in order to keep everyone safe it is necessary that they up their surveillance of citizens and this is logical to me. If doing surveillance on citizens will save lives then it should not even be debated if its okay, its saving lives.

    • While I agree that the public’s best interest should mean that the government has information about the citizens to keep them safe, it could also be used to harm them. The government would most likely keep tabs on people on what they do, and what if someone hacks into the system to steal that information. Instead of protecting the citizens it may cause harm, like a double edged sword. On one side you are keeping them safe by observing, but that could lead to the information falling into the wrong hands. I’m sure the government would do their best to keep this from happening, but it is still very likely that it could happen.

    • I agree that surveillance is a necessity to keep Americans safe, however, I do not believe it is necessary to watch American citizens if they have no criminal record, or have not said, posted, or texted anything life threatening. On the case that someone has a criminal record, or has a life threatening remark, then I believe surveillance should be increased on what they do and on their private lives.

    • While I agree that some information is required to ensure the safety of the general public, I don’t feel all citizens should be under the microscope. I feel those individuals who have shown themselves to be a serious threat should be scrutinized while the general public should enjoy some freedom unless they show dangerous tendencies.

    • I agree that the government’s monitoring of citizens’ private lives is a small price to pay if it means that government agencies can protect the people. Furthermore, I think that people’s worries about the government watching them are exaggerated. Government agencies don’t just look at what someone in the country is doing on or in front of their computer randomly. They collect relevant information (call times, to where they are made, and potentially certain problematic keywords) when there is reason to suspect that they could pose a threat to national security. So, 99% of the people worried about the government carefully monitoring them likely have nothing to be concerned about.

    • I agree with this but would like to add that the government has already been doing this for years. It is easier to discuss it nowadays because of social media, but this has been happening ever since the beginning of time, just in different formats.

  7. We were raised on the idea that America is the land of the free with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to privacy, etc. Obviously these ideas were just lies that America hides behind to appeal to others and make it seem better. Not that I do anything despicable in my private life but I like my privacy and I would rather not have the government knowing more about me than my own mother. Yes, I see the reasons as to why they do look into the private lives of American Citizens yet isn’t there the idea of innocent until proven guilty? Why do the need to keep surveillance on the average citizen if they haven’t done anything. It’s not like there upped surveillance has prevented anything from happening. It feels like it is unnecessarily there. I feel they should only have what is public knowledge such as the information given to jobs or schools. Like I said, I understand why they do this but I feel it could be minimized or made more useful.

    • I agree that people should have privacy but if it is in the public’s best interest and safety of the country shouldn’t the government be able to lessen the privacy to keep you safe? Personally I think that in order to maintain the safety of the country people should have less privacy.

      • I get your point and it makes total sense. But the country hasn’t really been made any safer. If anything don’t you think it has gotten worse? Maybe I’m only going based off of what I have been seeing on the news but still. It doesn’t really make sense to me if it’s supposed to make us safer when it has yet to do so.

    • I agree, the amount of excess information the government can have on a person just isn’t needed. With the average, law abiding citizen, there is no need for the government to know everything about their lives.

    • I agree with what you’re saying but I also think that there isn’t much unconstitutional about this unless the government is watching you inside private property. It is certainly unsettling, but video surveillance is already everywhere. And the government does not posses the resources to be watching a random person buying groceries. If that person is suspected of something, it is probably best that there are more resources to prove their innocence.

  8. Our generation doesn’t know a time where our right to privacy wasn’t infringed. It seems odd to talk about how much privacy the government should receive when we never truly got a say this discussion – our parents chose that for us after 9/11. That was, however, when they deemed that we needed national security, where our rights didn’t matter as much as the country surviving. While that excuse could be used liberally now, we don’t know it’s true extent without being in the government.

    How much should the government know about the daily lives of Americans? We don’t know what it’s like to not be on surveillance everywhere in public – on street corners, in stores, on the bus, in school. Even while it might not be the government taking someone’s information online, service providers watch every download and it’s location using their IP address – some might even watch browser history.

    However, these are mostly for corporations and their safety. The government watches, of course, for national safety. But how much? It’s hard to say without being in it, like I’ve said before. But how much should it have? As much as people want to give openly unless it’s for national security purposes, where they believe they are a national threat.

    We still have the right to privacy, but what’s the degree of it until the country is unsafe?

    • I completely agree, and you made a good point about this generation. It is almost impossible for us to feel the same about privacy infringement, as we have grown up in an era with technology that has never allowed for proper privacy anyways.

    • I agree, and I like that you brought up that this is a recent event, of sorts, with it starting after 9/11. Our generation really doesn’t know differently, which is interesting, considering most of us are also desensitized to violence, the very thing that the infringement is supposed to prevent.

    • I completely agree with you. We sincerely have never known true privacy due to growing up in this day and age where privacy is essentially nonexistent. It is also hard to tell how much they really know or utilize considering they are super secret about stuff like this. Maybe if we knew exactly what they were tracking, looking at, etc. people would feel better? Or it could backfire and completely tick off citizens. This type of issue is tricky but I do like your point about our generation never really knowing.

      • I see what you mean – it really could be a double-edged sword as not every human being has the same feelings about everything. Sometimes we don’t even know how we’ll react until we’re in the situation. As someone else posted before, with the public knowing of what they’re tracking, they could either be on their toes, carefully watching what they do in case they accidentally do wrong OR they could instead hack it out of anger. There’s always the possibility that people just don’t change their actions. Like I said before, it could go any number of ways if the government told what exactly they were doing, but an inkling might sate some anxious souls.

  9. While I do agree that the government should do more to combat terrorism I do believe there should be a boundary between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable when it comes to invading a citizens privacy. For example, wire tapping; I feel that the federal government should not be able to drop in on anyone’s conversation because that is there private personal business but just to be safe I feel like it should be allowed but only every so often like a check up. Also I feel like the government should have a basic knowledge of a citizen, Ike are they immigrants, do they travel out of the country frequently, what groups are they connected to. Simple things like what the government should be allowed top do for our sadety

  10. Due to recent terrorist threats in the United States, the US government has increased surveillance on citizens sparking a debate over whether or not it infringes upon our right to privacy. Personally, I think that there is a line when it comes to privacy. The federal government should not be allowed to listen in on conversations unless they have a very clear reason to. They should only be allowed to look at citizen’s search histories or interfere with the right to privacy given to them if they have a warrant or other proof as to how a person may be endangering the safety of the country.

    • I agree that the government should not be randomly looking at peoples search histories and such, the government should have a clear objective. However, in order to protect its citizens, the government needs to be able to collect intel.

  11. The federal government increased their surveillance on United States citizens to protect the country from terrorist and extremist threats to public safety. I understand that some surveillance is necessary to safeguard the country, but it is not necessary to survey every action that everyone does. As far as private lives are concerned, the federal government should not have too much information. The only time I see it practical to survey someone is when they have a criminal record, or have said, posted, or texted something threatening. Only then will it be justifiable to watch and gather information about one’s private life.

    • I agree. I see the purpose and intent behind this, however the way they obtain information should be justified and not completely interfere with peoples’ right to privacy. In cases like these it should be viewed as it would if police were to enter someones house without a warrant, because in a way our phones have been a gateway to whats in our home, housing personal information such as credit card numbers and other contacts. I feel that if the gov were to infridge on thus right they must have probable cause or a reasonable doubt, were they feel this person may be hating something that can harm the public safety.

  12. Upon the introduction of the Patriot Act after the tragedies of 9/11, an Americans right to privacy has certainly been questioned. In my opinion, I feel that the government should have option of having surveillance on possible attackers, those with a great interest in bomb making, enacting Jihad, putting themselves in communication with possible terrorist groups, Etc. I feel that the average citizen however should enjoy some autonomy from the government in their private sphere unless they show signs of possible terrorist tendencies.

    • I agree, with reasonable suspicion, a possible person of threat to the country should be questioned, but like you said, for the average citizen you don’t need this much surveillance. But yet again, even with the surveillance available, terror attacks still happen.

    • I agree with you i think that the government should be able to access private information of those they believe are a threat to the United States but they shouldn’t have access to the private information of people who haven’t done anything or are not suspicious.

  13. I feel that although the idea behind this surveillance may be benficial, it is an infringement of the basic rights of people. I feel that if there is surveillance on the lives of people that there should be a limit on how much information they can aquire. When acquire information, ghey should have probable cause rather than search freely. I feel that they should only be responding to possible threats rather than searching for something that may or may not be there, vewing personal information and interfering with peoples’ right to privacy.

    • I agree with you. There is no reason for anyone to be breaking our right to privacy if there isn’t something specific for them to be searching for. They should of course search possible criminals or terrorists, but not the average civilian who has raised no suspicion.

  14. While it is important to have a right to privacy, it is also necessary to keep our citizens safe. There is a fine line between the two and where it is has been argued among politicians for a long time. Personally, I don’t think (hope) I do anything that would cause government suspicion, but I still do not like knowing that someone is constantly spying on me. Then again, they probably are already doing so much more than we know. I think the government should have access to parts of our phone, but it needs to be against the law for them to search without proper cause. Otherwise, it’s a violation of privacy and honestly a waste of time. They should also get information about employments or education, but again, not be able to look without reason. I don’t think that the government should have any access into our homes. While this could help solve some cases, I don’t think that it is worth it. There are other ways to solve crimes that may take longer, but get he job done in the end. I draw the line at our homes because our lives revolve there and that’s something I don’t want anyone else to be spying in on.

    • I agree with you i think that the government should have a limit on what kind of information they can get. I think that they should only access people’s information if they are suspicious or if they need information on a case.

    • I agree that the government should only really look on to someone who has been in prior crimes, or has posted, texted, or said something that is a “clear and present danger”. However, I do think that the government should be allowed to enter our homes with probable cause and a Warrent.

  15. The governmental surveillance of American citizens may seem like an encroachment of one’s civil liberties. However, I believe it is completely necessary to ensure the overall security of our nation against terrorism. The amount of security surveillance performed by the government is meant to merely protect the American people. I will say that it is only fair for citizens to be made aware when he/she is under surveillance. In any case, The Fourteenth Amendment and due process clause protects citizens from any unreasonable privacy infringements. Consequently, I feel as though the government should do what is necessary to guarantee the safety of our nation, even if that entails surveillance.

    • I agree in that in this age, we should be willing to sacrifice a little bit of our privacy to ensure that we are safe. I also agree in how you said that the government should be tranparent in what they monitor from civilian. I feel like that would make people trust the government’s process more— if they’re honest.

  16. The intent of surveillance is positive– to protect the American people. However, the American people are also entitled to privacy, so I feel like there should be a balance between the two. Having extensive information on citizens is, to me, almost like watching someone in their home. If we wouldn’t deem this acceptable, then why we would it be okay for the government to find other ways to watch us? If someone is suspected of terrorism, though, then that obviously warrants keeping a lot of information on that person in order to keep the public safe. And files that are public information, like education and employment records, should also be made available to the government. I just think the line between surveillance in the name of safety and intrusion on people’s privacy is a thin one, and we need to find a happy medium.

  17. Privacy is, without a doubt, something many people believe is incredibly important. In this age of global terrorist threats, however, one must sacrifice some of their privacy for the safety and well-being of the nation. Since 9/11, the federal government has been increasing the amount of information they have about every person in the country. This is necessary and should be allowed. New technology has increased our ability to communicate with one another and thus it is easier for terrorists to plan attacks. In order to counter this threat, the government needs to be able to collect private information about citizens.

  18. While my instinct is to reject any invasion of my privacy especially by the government, I recognize the rising need for a better system to combat terrorist threats. In that regard, I do think the federal government should be able to encroach upon the private lives of citizens, but only a reasonable amount and with probable cause. Such as when police need a warrant to search one’s house, people’s information should be protected in that way yet should still be available for search if the government deems you a threat. In terms of overall surveillance like an increase in CCTV, I see no problem with that because it seems to work well in the UK. Essentially, I see no problem with increased surveillance as long as it’s doesn’t unfairly impede our privacy.

  19. Due to previous terrorist attacks, I can understand why the government would need to use surveillance on Americans. However, the extent to that surveillance should only be the necessary amount needed to watch for suspicious activity. The government does not need every bit of private information in order to keep the country safe. Any further surveillance would be infringing on the right to privacy. It is very important for the government to acquire certain information about the private lives of citizens. Using surveillance may actually help the country become safer, but I do believe that it is important to respect privacy.

    • I agree, the amount of surveillance should only be what is necessary to determine if someone is trying to harm the country. It would be infringing upon our civil liberties if the government were to use or obtain any other information that is not needed.

    • I like how you mentioned that there needs to be a balance between surveillance and privacy. One is needed to make the country safe, but the other is a right that we should all be able to enjoy. Suspicious activity should be monitored but surveillance should not overstep.

    • I agree that the government doesn’t need every bit of information on every single American. The government should find a way to protect us from threats as well as protect our rights.

  20. I do agree, the government should do more in the attempt to combat terrorism, however I don’t think the government should have all the information on the private lives of American citizens. It seems that the government having all the information would undeniably go against the right to privacy. It would be especially wrong if the government didn’t have a reason for spectating upon an individuals private life. Yes, the government should be able to use the information needed to prove that someone is planning to harm the country, but they do not need every little bit of information on our private lives.

    • I agree with you, I feel that the government should have surveillance. When it’s absolutely necessary. There is nothing wrong with the government having private information of citizens but I think that the amount of information they obtain should be limited.

  21. I believe that the government should have limited access to the private lives of most Americans because of a persons right to privacy. Instead of having access to everyone’s private life, they should be restricted to those previously convicted of a felony and those they interact with. This way it keeps the rotten apples separate from the rest while still allowing for a crackdown on crime and terrorism.

  22. The United States has surveillance systems up and running for decades to protect the US civilians. When the plane crashes of 9/11 happened, the government has had a stricter system in place, so that nothing like that can ever happen again. I think that the US government should be allowed to monitor social media and email for key words or phrases and suspicious people that could be threats or concerns to the possible terrorism. If they didn’t monitors us, then they couldn’t protect us from the possible threats that could be out there.

  23. Government agencies carry out operations daily in order to protect the American people from threats to national security. They carry out these operations fairly well, thanks in large part to mass surveillance. While no one on any side of this debate necessarily likes the idea of the government monitoring them, this surveillance allows agencies like the NSA to collect information that could be used to prevent terrorist attacks. Thus, I do not see a problem with allowing federal agencies to have broad surveillance of what is considered private to most.
    Those who fear that someone could be watching them at any moment through a camera and that this is a sharp violation of civil liberties must consider a crucial point: No government agency will unreasonably look at what someone may or may not be doing in front of their computer, for instance. They will be collecting data on where calls are placed, how long they last, and if certain potentially problematic words are mentioned. This is the sort of information that the NSA uses to help prevent terrorist threats, and for that reason there should not be restrictions on the access of government agencies to the private lives of Americans, even if this could go against the concept of a right to privacy.

    • I agree that the government should be allowed to survey citizens however, I do disagree on the government actually using this information. One example would be the parkland shooter. Authorities had monitored him for months leading up to the shooting but the information gathered did nothing to prevent it.

  24. I think that the information the government can acquire should be limited because then it violates our right of privacy. The government should only be able to get information they need. They don’t need to know everything about us in order to keep the country safe.They should only be able to get as much information as they can get on people who are suspicious or someone who has committed a crime and they need the information for a case.

    • I agree that the government should only get the information they need, but the problem is that companies aren’t allowing them to do this. Apple for example doesn’t allow authorities access to their devices even with a warrant. This bars prosecutors from gaining knowledge on other individuals involved with the crime.

  25. I think that surveillance can be used by the government with probable cause. Anything posted to public spaces is a free for all, however I think that private information should require a warrant. The new implant microchips being placed in employees of certain firms are troubling because they make surveillance easier and if they could be accessed by the government, would infringe on privacy.

  26. I personally think that the government should have unlimited access to civilian lives. In helps with bring justice and safety to the country. It may inflict on peoples privacy, but it is only for the public safety. For example, the NSA and FBI have access to your phone, media, networking, and security. They basically know your whereabouts at all times. This is for the safety of you and others.

  27. I do agree that the government needs to do surveillance and know what’s going on. But it crosses the line when they start viewing people through their own personal devices and listening to their phone calls. For all we know they aren’t just gathering this information for security reasons.

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