Reports that the NSA is collecting extensive phone and Internet data from U.S. citizens have ignited a debate about privacy versus security among government officials and American citizens. Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, weighs in on the controversy.
“If we’re gonna have a debate about privacy versus security let’s have it in the open," Harpe says. "Let’s have some oversight of the National Security Agency and let’s have some oversight on the part of Congress. We in the public need to oversee our Congress much better because they’re not doing their job so far.”
Harper adds that collecting all the data from every American’s phone calls “can’t possibly be useful for link-based investigation.”
The United States government has reportedly obtained a top secret court order requiring Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency on a daily basis. CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Tom Fuentes weighs in on the gravity of the order.
“It's a blanket order so that you could go back at another time and look specifically at a particular phone number or group of phone numbers to see if it appears that there’s some type of a group connection,” Fuentes says. “And it will raise questions as to whether the government should have that kind of blanket coverage ahead of time without suspicion about a particular number.”
The former FBI Assistant Director adds that it would be helpful to go back to Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s phone records “and look at who did he call, who called him, even locally within the United States, and go back through a certain period of time.”