Column: Pros outweight the cons with security scans on electronic communication

Column: Pros outweight the cons with security scans on electronic communication

Over the summer, Edward Snowden leaked information about the National Security Administration spying on phone calls and texts of American citizens. This caused a massive uproar among the American people. But really, it should have been a non-issue. And here’s why:

First and foremost, the NSA and the American government has been doing this for years already. We have speculated that, since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the government has been tapping our phones and listening in on our conversations to try to find tips on possible terrorist attacks. Although there has been no steadfast evidence up until this summer, it was not a wide-spread point of debate whether or not they were doing this and, for the most part, people were okay with it. All of a sudden, though, people aren’t ok with it since they know for sure that it’s happening. But really, they should be elated and should encourage it more, especially now that it’s known and doesn’t have to be secretive. This is one easy and, if executed correctly, effective way to help combat terrorism from within the United States. It won’t catch every single plot, but it can help prevent many. And it also won’t incriminate innocent people simply going about their daily lives and using their cell phones as a proper means of easy and instant communication.

Think about it this way: there are nearly 314 million people currently residing in the United States. Of those 314 million, 91% of adults are reported to use a cell phone, and 78% of teens (ages 12-17) own a cell phone according to the Pew Research Center. If you crunch those numbers, they equal 23,400,000 teens with cell phones and around 263,900,000 adults with cell phones.

Now imagine how many phone calls are made each day by each of those persons, and how many text messages are sent each day. That number is staggeringly high, and much higher than any number of government employees could read. This means that their “spying” is conducted by quickly running everything through a computer program that scans for keywords. If one such keyword comes up, then the text or phone call will be examined in closer detail. This serves everyone’s purpose, since it effectively keeps your private conversations private, unless you’re talking about committing an act of terrorism (and we can all agree that this should, in fact, not be kept private).

Now that the truth is out, more Americans should support this program, allowing it to expand and better scan for acts of domestic terrorism. With a greater domestic security network, events like the Boston bombing and other atrocities could potentially be thwarted. And that possibility far outweighs the negatives of having your conversations quickly scanned through.