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Nothing to hide, everything to lose.

By: Emiliano Vazquez-Parrales, Student Voices Section Editor (evazqu20@uic.edu)

The most recent revelation of NSA wiretaps on foreign leaders has brought much scrutiny on the U.S. from the international community, but where is the outrage from the American public?

Ever since Edward Snowden leaked classified files on the NSA spying program this past summer, the national and international reactions have been some of the top stories of the past six months.  Yet many news outlets including FOX, MSNBC, and CNN have had reports that many Americans believe that as long as they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to worry about.  Wrong!

Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the very notion of a government spying on its own citizens was considered heresy.  Only the Soviets and other communist nations would do something so invasive.  Granted, in those days there was no Internet and McCarthyism was running rampant, but at least the right to privacy held much more merit than it does today.

The fact of the matter is that it is not about having something to hide; it’s an issue of democracy.  The NSA and Bush/Obama administrations have been spying on American citizens and there have been abuses of the spying program that were not made available to the public.

Who knows what type of information has been gathered on citizens, and to what ends that information is being used for?  The way I see it, this spying program is really no better than peeping Toms and stalkers.  Annoying, invasive, and potentially dangerous.

Now according to the defenders of the program, it has helped prevent assassinations and terrorist attacks on multiple occasions.  Yet how many thousands of emails did they look through, and how much data was collected from innocent Americans before they had enough Intel to prevent perhaps a handful of attacks?

Perhaps what bothers me the most is that the government has been selling personal information that it has collected from the spying program to different companies so that they can increase their “appeal” to customers.  Many people were unaware of the passing of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) because it was passed during a time when Americans were more concerned with gun control policy.  It was passed with a strong majority vote from the House.

This is a direct violation of the fourth amendment of the constitution, which is supposed to protect us from that.  Where was the warrant to collect my information?  I don’t remember agreeing to let the government take my information and sell it.

It is sickening to see my own government sell my private, personal information to faceless corporations.  It is sickening that slowly but surely lawmakers are whittling away at our right to privacy.  But what is perhaps the most sickening and disappointing aspect of all this is that no one seems to care.  If we, the people of the United States, do not speak up for ourselves, I promise you no one else will.

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