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The NSA, Privacy, and College Students

By now, we’re all familiar with the NSA PRISM leaks, Edward Snowden, and the rest of the scenario: the government has been accessing phone records for the past several years. If you’re not aware, you live under a rock, and I have no idea why (or how) you’re reading this, but let me help you out.

The whole point of this article isn’t to take sides, as I (and most of the rest of us) don’t know the whole story and probably can’t, for a myriad of reasons. Many people believe Snowden is a hero, many believe he is a traitor, and many (like myself) have no idea what to think. On the one hand, he released information that he was sworn to keep secret and protected. On another he believes that his Constitutional oath overrides that, and on another he could have endangered lots of people, and critical operations that are being done to keep America safe.

What has irked me in this entire scenario is how people in my generation, many of them college students, have cried out about how this violates our privacy.  This is coming from the generation who checks into every place we go on Foursquare, posts pictures of ourselves by the millions on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms, SnapChats all kinds of photos to our significant others and our friends that aren’t as “gone” as we think, and will sign up for every sweepstakes for a free iPad or anything else at the drop of a hat while using our phones that can easily be accessed over unsecured networks by the right people.

Are we really that concerned about our privacy?

Granted, there is the polarity there of us granting these social media sites access and limiting who can see what and where we are, but the hypocrisy of this whole situation is staring us in the face. Our generation is all about sharing information, and we’re crying out in protest when the government uses a little of it to protect the country?

I urge everyone who reads this to do a Google search of their own name and other public screen names they use to see what is really out there about them, and if it’s all what they want the government seeing. If you can find it on Google, they can find it and a lot more without much work.

Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have anything to hide from the government. If some NSA agent is more worried about the few Facebook posts I made this morning, or who I called, then our national security is really in danger. Sure, their access to it is scary, but is anyone actually surprised they are doing this?

I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, good or bad. I’m just saying that sometimes we need to look at ourselves and what we want seen before we actually complain about anyone else actually seeing it. Let’s clean up our acts and expect the government to live by our example.


Edward Peichel | St. John’s University | @EdwardPeichel

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