NSA Monitors Internet Users more than Foreign Targets

September 26, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. surveillance /sərˈveɪ ləns, -ˈveɪl yəns/ (n.) – the act or manner of observing someone secretly, especially when the person is suspected of a criminal activity
Example: The president decided that better surveillance is needed for the safety of his family.

2. intelligence /ɪnˈtɛ lɪ dʒəns/ (n.) – the act of collecting information that is considered confidential because of its significance
Example: Secret agents are often responsible for gathering and sending intelligence.

3. intercept /ˌɪntərˈsɛpt/ (v.) – to hear or see information that is either meant for another or is never meant to be publicized
Example: The government successfully intercepted documents that would prove the corrupt politician guilty.

4. snooping /’snupɪŋ/ (n.) – the act of investigating in secret, especially with the intent of finding something secret or private
ExampleElectronic snooping can be considered as an act of invasion of privacy.

5. eavesdrop /ˈivzˌdrɒp/ (v.) – to listen to a conversation in secret, especially if the conversation is private
Example: They set up cameras in the building to eavesdrop on the unsuspecting criminals. 


Read the text below.
The National Security Agency (NSA) was discovered to have more surveillance files from common Internet users rather than foreign targets.

The NSA is a United States intelligence department responsible for monitoring digital and foreign intelligence. According to reports by the Washington Post, the agency has been intercepting online and electronic communications of ordinary American and foreign Internet users.

Most of the intercepted materials include personal conversations about private matters. After conducting a study that examined files of more than 100,000 emails and documents from 11,000 online accounts, the Washington Post found that most of the files have no significant value.

However, some of the materials were found to provide information useful to the country’s national security. Through the surveillance files, the NSA exposed underground criminal activities, including a nuclear project overseas and acts of political fraud. In addition, independent committees such as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board believe that the NSA’s foreign intelligence gathering has helped prevent terrorism in the country.

Despite this, the Washington Post asserted that the NSA continues to risk the people’s right to privacy in its efforts to obtain such useful information. It was further stressed that the public lacks awareness of the NSA’s surveillance policies.

Consequently, the NSA’s unrestricted snooping not only stirred disapproval from various civil liberties activists but also caused conflicts with other countries.

Last year, Germany accused the US of illicit surveillance when a former NSA contractor revealed documents claiming that the NSA had been eavesdropping on private conversations of a German politician. This led to tension in the foreign relations between Germany and the US.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the NSA’s unrestricted snooping? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, do the NSA’s surveillance files make the US an ally or an enemy to your country? Kindly explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Would you let your government monitor your private affairs? Why or why not?
·         Do you think national security is more important than people’s privacy? Why or why not?

September 26, 2014