Orwellian act

Reports electronic surveillance US National Security AgencyNSAconcernprivate citizenstargets scrutinyof extensive of people undertaken by the () have caused , again highlighting how the state is intruding into the lives of .  It is not just specific who were under . 

Electronic communications of all people, both American and non-American, were being accessed under a programme called PRISM, in which a British  agency is also involved. The NSA is collecting phone records and mining user data from the servers of  some big internet companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google. Though some of these companies have denied their knowledge of and involvement  in the programme,  it does not make a difference to the persons whose privacy has been compromised. But at least one telecom company, Verizone, is known to have allowed NSA access to millions of phone records on official request.  This is a scary situation.

The surveillance programme has now turned out to be the most important source of raw intelligence for the NSA. E-mails, chats, videos, photos, file transfers, video-conferencing and other forms of communication are accessed for clues to any activity impinging on national security. This is an Orwellian nightmare come true - citizens under the watch of an all-powerful Big Brother state, and unable to counter it. The NSA activity has been defended by the US administration as right and legal. It is claimed that the executive programme has been supported by the legislature and judiciary. President Obama has strongly endorsed it,  and there are doubts whether a public outcry can force the NSA to scale down or scrap the programme.

It is the usual argument of the imperative to ensure national security that is trotted out to justify the wholesale attack on the rights of people. There is a claim that it is mainly foreign nationals who are the targets of snooping. This is only because the quantum of electronic  traffic of all non-US people should be more than that of US citizens.  India is among  the major targets.  But encroachment on the civil liberties of people is equally bad, whether the victims are Americans or foreigners. It is sometimes difficult to draw the dividing line between security imperatives and the need to respect the rights of people. But the PRISM programme has clearly gone too far and is completely wrong.

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