Edward Snowden and National Security: Is Privacy Subject to Constitutional Protection?
Earlier this year, Edward Joseph Snowden released information suggesting that the U.S. governmental agencies were violating privacy rights by monitoring and recording citizens' online activities. Snowden worked for a National Security Agency ("NSA") contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, as an infrastructure analyst. Snowden's leaks brought to light the controversial issues of national security, privacy rights, and whether the government could lawfully monitor citizens in the name of national security. Are you concerned about your online privacy rights? Would you like a clearer understanding of how far your privacy rights extend? Activity you conduct on a public network may be subject to surveillance. Therefore, we recommend that you speak with an experienced attorney who can explain the recent laws and guidelines in online privacy and how the changes affect you.
In fact, Snowden revealed that the NSA uses a top-secret program, namely XKeyScore, to monitor online activities. Online activities, including, but not limited to, browsing history, email content, and online conversations are essentially vulnerable to government surveillance. This shocking revelation raises the issue of whether this heightened level of surveillance violates state or federal privacy rights. Privacy, and especially online privacy is not a clear subject. Advertisement companies continue to fight for the right to access personal information to promote marketing campaigns. Privacy advocates argue for protection of individual privacy rights. In the midst of this conundrum, online users continue to steal copyrighted material and sell it for financial gain.
In general, constitutional standards require the NSA to obtain warrants before crossing U.S. citizens' privacy protections, whether in the name of national security or otherwise. However, as a result of constant threats to national security, and the ongoing fear of terrorism, statutory changes, such as the Patriot Act, have loosened privacy requirements. While Snowden's revelations have not helped define the parameters of individual privacy and national security concerns, they have certainly brought these issues to the public's attention. As the courts, consumers, and related government agencies struggle to decipher privacy laws, individuals can take steps to protect online privacy. For instance, it is important to not post private information over the Internet. This includes information on social networks, chat rooms, and any online accounts. Additionally, since browsing history and online transactions are vulnerable to monitoring, online users should proceed with caution regarding their e-commerce transactions.
At our law firm, we guide clients in legal matters by using extensive knowledge and skills to create innovative solutions. We have experience in representing consumers and businesses, both national and international, in protecting their privacy. You may contact us today to set up a confidential consultation.