Government Surveillance of Social Media

Posted by Abby Wolner

The New York Times published an article today detailing a bill which would allow all internet communication (Skype, Facebook, etc.) to be tapped and accessed by the government.  With the dramatic rise in social networking and communication via internet, people are using phones less, which makes the traditional form of wiretapping–phones–less useful.  This makes the government very nervous.

It is part of our national understanding that sacrifices must be made for the sake of safety.  We take off our shoes and belts at airport security.  We join neighborhood watch programs.  We try to remain an open, unsuspicious book for those around us.  Why is it, then, that government surveillance still makes us so nervous?

In this case, it is the arena of surveillance that bothers me.   The internet has always been anyone’s game.  Decentralized and endless, we have been able to publish almost anything on the world wide web.  Thus, the internet is very public.  When it comes to social media, however, most people prefer some privacy.  Many of us view social media as a means of conversation, as if we met someone on the street.  Should these casual interactions be accessible to the government?  In an age, where so much is public knowledge, where does social media fit in?  

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