It has been a while since Edward Snowden’s leaked documents exposed the nature and depth of NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens. More and more details come to light almost every day, and each new revelation seems to show a pattern of constitutional abuse that is justified in the name of keeping everyone safe.
In Canada, the Globe and Mail revealed last week that the Canadian government has been granted even more secret latitude for spying than the NSA. While the NSA so far has only collected phone call metadata, it seems the Canadian government has the ability to get “real-time, full-time” access to all wireless call and text content. According to the article, this includes access by police agencies nationwide. What’s different about the U.S. experience is that this access is still governed by judicial authority. In other words, a warrant is still required. Technically this is true in the U.S. but the secret FISA court has been hoodwinked and since it is secret no one knew that the NSA was exceeding the stipulations of the court.
Regardless of the differences, I think it is a good thing that the public is now able to know exactly how much government scrutiny the average person faces. We can blame the terrorists for stripping away our privacy, but really it is our reaction to terror that puts us where we are today. I’d personally be more comfortable with fewer eyes and ears on everything we do, even if that meant a slight uptick in risk of another attack. And based on what we’ve seen globally in recent weeks, another attack is almost certain. Sadly, I believe that the data collection effort by governments in the U.S. and Canada is so pervasive and complete that they will not be able to suss out a needle in the massive haystack they have now.