By Jeanine Russaw
The goal of the National Security Agency [NSA] appears to come at the expense of student freedom of expression on the internet. A cultural climate of intrusion may be the inevitable aftermath of its mission “to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information.”
Brian Ogilvie, Hampton University alum and writer of Today’s Transcendence, is an active follower of the news on NSA monitoring—including recent debate between NSA representatives and leaders of the New York Civil Liberties Union [NYCLU].
“It [NSA] affects college students more than any other single demographic,” Ogilvie said. “As students are the early-adopters of all things technology, whatever conclusions you draw about the issue you’d have to amplify further specifically for that age group.”
In previous weeks, the debate between NSA Personnel Stewart Baker and NYCLU representative Michael German led to skepticism among students about the validity of internet surveillance. German pointed out that ‘spying’ on the everyday citizen distracts the government from finding actual threats.
“The NSA is a huge violation of privacy and our rights. To me this extends far beyond just affecting college students, but all citizens,” said Alyssa Cole, a senior at Mankato State University.
Carol Fletcher, Department Chair of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations at Hofstra University, teaches a course on media literacy and the ethics of surveillance. The honors seminar “Growing up in Suburbia,” zeroes in on the digital realities students of the millennial generation are encountering.
“Excessive Monitoring is an unjust invasion of privacy, but it hasn’t changed the way I post since I always operate on the assumption everything I post or email is not private,” Fletcher said. “I hope people still have some privacy on the web but I wouldn’t depend on it.”
Students taking her class share differing views. As a journalism major, Hofstra University senior Beckett Mufson is confident that when it comes to new media and privacy, “generation y” has the home-court advantage.
“If we were to feel threatened by the government, our generation is astutely aware of open source privacy-protecting tools, such as TOR or VPNs,” Mufson said. “Especially after the Arab Spring and the current Silk Road incidents we feel confident that if we had something we really wanted to hide, there would be a way to hide it.”
Does it stop there? An article on the FOX website offers that the NSA garners approximately 5 billion cell phone location records daily. The knowledge of the average U.S. civilian’s whereabouts and intimate conversations can be traced with little to no effort.
For the college student whose life is only just beginning, all it takes are “hackers of all sorts who can find this information out and more,” said Rachael Durant, sophomore. Monitored information can affect aspects of students’ future, such as employment.
“The NSA proves that the government is too big and is overreaching its constitutional limits,” Cole said. “The government says that it’s to protect us, but who’s going to protect us from the government?”
Photo Credit: host.madison.com