Government Surveillance: No Official Right to Privacy.


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Our supreme law of our land, the U.S Constitution, includes no official right to privacy. However, our first ten amendments, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights, contains certain characteristics of privacy which stems from the original writers of the Constitution that portray the rights of the people. The first amendment gives us the privacy of belief to practice any religion, the third amendment gives us the privacy of our home so it does not have to be occupied by soldiers, the fourth amendment gives us the privacy of the person and possession where we don’t have to go through obstructive searches, and the fifth amendment gives us the privacy to be against the process of self-incrimination. 

We cannot be held accountable to a crime without proof from a grand jury. The ninth amendment also adds to this cause by stating that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”. The definition behind this amendment can be quite shifty, but some people such as Justice Goldberg stated in his Griswold v. Connecticut case that this amendment basically reads the Bill of Rights in such a way to give and secure privacy that has not been already portrayed within the first eight amendments. 

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The debate between whether or not the Constitution explicitly gives us privacy within the Bill of Rights has been argued for many years and since then not a single foundational answer has been given. People have given valid points from both sides of this topic which has resonated through everyone living in the U.S in some form or fashion. The Supreme Court states that there has been an adequate amount of privacy given through the use of the fourteenth amendment more specifically, the “liberty” term which has earned the acceptance of many Americans. 

A question that has always been reoccurring for the Court to answer about privacy is how much attention should the states give to control cases where a person feels as if the government has impeded on their right to privacy. Just like the on going debate, the ensuing of privacy remains unsecured. Government officials show no incentive to secure the privacy of citizens unless there were claims attacking the assurances given by the Bill of Rights. On the contrary, the people want the Constitution to be concise and straight forward. There should be no breaches as far as privacy is concerned and the government should show no hindrances to the people of this country.

If you, as a citizen, were to visualize the effects of privacy which we have been given to by the government, it would resemble that of a “safe” zone. If you read and analyze the numerous articles the government has said about the right to privacy, you would begin to know their position very well on this matter and ultimately what their goal is for the impending future. From these articles and their quotes, we can infer that the Supreme Court uses the classification of zones to summarize the privacy policies within America. 

They put “safe” zones around people, their homes, and their individual families, where the government cannot enter without a warrant of utmost necessity. These zones have been placed to keep the privacy of marital relationships, including abortion and birth control, and ultimately private interests. These are the types of cases where privacy plays a significant role, when it contains information regarding a person’s well-being and its influence over their family members. Cases that involve matters that are personal such as a person’s life should be their call to make without any outside influence. 

They should be at liberty to make their decision without the demands from the government. If the person’s decision doesn’t affect anyone else, whether it be positive or negative, they should have full autonomy to make the call. As humans with morals, we are constantly changing as is our choices. We are always trying to better something, whether it be on a local scale or international. Privacy is a foundational piece that obstructs the path of complete government control. If we were to lose this piece, our social obligations would diminish, and we would not be able to live in a democratic nation where we preserve the right to communicate, construct, expand, and ponder. As humans, it is necessary for us to think freely and make our own choices.

The person who did think freely and for the betterment of the citizens living in the U.S was Edward Snowden. He can, quite possibly, be the only man to go down in history to challenge the government in such an astronomical stage by exposing what goes on behind the scenes without the people’s knowledge. He is a whistleblower- he was the only who followed our principles of the right to privacy and created a mass debate on global surveillance which altered this constantly developing world. 

Edward Snowden released documents containing US intelligence to numerous journalists in June 2013 that illustrated the length of surveillance going on around the world. These documents included our private emails, phone calls, and internet history which by no means did we, the people, give access to. By going through with this dangerous yet heroic decision of blowing the whistle on the various human right violations committed by the NSA, he was branded a traitor and now is a highly wanted man in America. His decision altered the world of electronic communication. 

With his help, we know that various governments around the world, such as the USA, UK, Australia, are capturing and holding our personal information which violates our basic right to privacy. After he reported the actions taken by the NSA to The Guardian, he left the US and is now living his “normal” life in Russia. For the cases of Whistleblowers, there are rules and regulations regarding the information they carry and its interest to the general public. 

Snowden’s declaration undeniably brought to light the abuses the government carried out behind our backs. Just within a couple years after exposing the US government, he has forever altered how we address each other online and through our cellular devices. If it wasn’t for him, the citizens wouldn’t have known about the extensive amount of surveillance through electronic communication. The sacrifices Snowden made were directly for the public interest and nothing less.  

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