During week 5, students in GCO investigated privacy policies and practices of various online communities we frequent, so we skipped the dinner table topic since we didn’t have a common topic. This week, we’re back at the dinner table, and the topic is NSA surveillance.
Should the U.S. government collect and store data about people without those people being aware of it?
Consider all/some of these sub-questions:
- Does your position apply to all people everywhere (e.g. leaders/citizens of other countries, etc.), all people in the United States (e.g. travelers from other countries, etc.), or only to U.S. citizens and legalized residents? Why do you draw the line where you do?
- Are there certain types of data that it’s o.k. for the government to collect and store, but not others? Again, where’s the line and why?
- What benefits do you get as a citizen, or what benefits does the nation gain, in exchange for the data collected about you? Is it worth it?
- Does anonymity matter? If the data is anonymized, does that change your position? How?
- Does the answer depend on which agency of the government is collecting and storing it, or how they’re using it? Explain.
- What safeguards should be in place to protect data collected? Who should make sure those safeguards are in place?
- What other factors matter to you – the age of the person surveilled? whether the information is shared between agencies?
- Amid all the talk of data collection by the government, there seems to be less fervor about the data that private and public companies collect without necessarily notifying people. Is there a difference? Why?