The National Security Agency (NSA) has been more than a bit of a hot button issue lately; ever since Edward Snowden came forth as whistle blower to reveal the agency’s nasty little habit of spying on American citizens, the NSA has been echoing images of the George Orwell novel 1984, particularly its infamous “big brother” figure. Snowden revealed that the NSA had been collecting phone and internet records from major providers such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Verizon, and Google. The whistle blower fled the US after leaking the news to the public, and is currently seeking asylum in Russia after a stint in Hong Kong.
The news that they were being spied on did not go over well with the general American public; rage and demands for change rocketed into the spotlight on both national news outlets and social media. People in large majorities praised Snowden for his heroic effort as a whistle blower and dismissed with disdain the US government’s attempts to label him a terrorist and traitor. Debates about rights to privacy and questions of just how far the government should be allowed to go also sprung up with the news, causing national outcry and conversation.
On Wednesday, a proposal to “sharply restrict” the NSA’s phone surveillance program was defeated by the house, though closely so, with votes being 205-to-217. Although the amendment being deliberated on, introduced by Republican Justin Amash, was supported by both conservatives and liberals who critiqued the NSA’s actions as “too broad and intrusive.” The amendment would have required the collection of any data to be related to a specific person instead of being a sweeping blanket.
The White House was quick to put together a statement, with spokesman Jerry Carney saying that lawmakers were attempting to “hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counter terrorism tools.” He went on to say, “This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process.” Fear that the amendment would lead to the execution of PRISM and complete defunding of NSA programs like it seemed to be the driving motivation behind the white house scramble to oppose the bill and support its defeat. And that certainly isn’t comforting news for the vocal majority that would love to see that exact instance become a reality.