What needs to be done to limit surveillance?
When Edward Snowden leaked information about the National Security Agency's massive digital surveillance program, people were outraged about the invasive tactics used by the government body – but now the question is about what should be done to stop it.
As insight continues to pour out regarding the NSA PRISM program, the extent to which people's rights were violated are only just beginning to be understood. Not only were the liberties of citizens violated, but also those of foreign leaders. Even worse, these people were not the heads of terrorist groups like al Qaeda – they were allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This puts the United States and other governments in compromising positions when it comes to their foreign policy and Internet freedom policies. While they were busy scolding countries like Iran or China for their cyberpolicies, they were enacting their own limiting ones themselves.
A global agreement
In this sense, these programs violate the rights of individuals on two major levels. In the case of the United States, the government was invading the privacy rights of its own citizens, but also the individuals of other nations. The Associated Press reported that along with eaves dropping on foreign leaders, it also swept million of French telephone records.
Because of the truly international scope that these violations have taken, the United Nations has worked to develop a set of rights for individuals online around the globe. The news source noted that Brazil and Germany, both countries whose leaders were spied on, presented a resolution to the U.N. General Assembly urging nations to extend privacy rights to the Internet and other forms of cybercommunication.
"In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of opinion and expression, and no effective democracy," said Brazilian Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, according to the news source.
While such a resolution does not legally require anything from these government, the Associated Press noted they are a reflection of sentiment around the glove and "carry moral and political weight."
Who is to blame?
Because these problems penetrate far deeper than just within the country's borders, action that the federal government of the U.S. takes needs to be able to address surveillance on multiple levels. What complicates matters even more is that, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the NSA is using rhetoric to say that it is looking to prevent terrorism.
However, this is not necessarily sound logic. The German head of state is not necessarily a primary target when it comes international terrorist cells, and reports have come out that organizations like the World Bank have even been the subject of this program.
On top of this, the U.S. is not alone in the utilization of these measures. The British government has also reportedly used such programs, meaning that not everyone is in the right.
What should be done?
Action needs to be taken in order to prevent these programs from becoming more common than they already are. Ultimately, some feel that foreign government need to simply take a hard stance on the issue.
The Index on Censorship is an international free speech advocacy organization that investigates censorship and limitations on expression throughout the world, making it an international authority when it comes to the subject.
"If Angela Merkel does not like the idea of having her phone monitored by the NSA then she needs to do something about it," said the organization's Director of Campaigns and Policy. "It's time for the EU's leaders to condemn and put an end to the mass surveillance of European citizens' private communications by the NSA, GCHQ and other government agencies."
Hopefully, through the pursuit of such actions like U.N. resolution will be able to address these issues on the international level.