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Monica Lindstrom

Updated Jun 4, 2015 - 3:44 pm

Privacy has always been a big issue in our country

Privacy has always been a big issue in our country and it always will be.

People get fired up when there is a threat of an “invasion of privacy,” especially when the invasion is from the big bad wolf, also known as the government.

Recently there have been two powerhouses dealing with significant privacy issues which directly effect you, one being the National Security Agency and the other (some would say less sinister) is Facebook.

Remember the name Edward Snowden? He was the man who leaked information about the NSA. Ring a bell? Since he entered the story, more and more Americans have come to the realization that our federal government has been collecting all kinds of information on each of us, most significantly, phone records.

The ability to do this came out of the Patriot Act. After Sept. 11, 2001, the government was on a mission to stop all terrorists and obtain as much information as possible. We, as citizens, were also on board with this since we were all reeling with the tragedy our county had just experienced at the hands of terrorists. Most citizens were agreeable to relaxing their privacy for the sake of the greater good.

My how times have changed.

The provision of the Patriot Act that allowed this bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records had a sunset clause, essentially meaning it would expire unless it was renewed. Well, it expired. Congress passed the USA Freedom Act that will ultimately end the collection of this “private” information. President Barack Obama has already proclaimed he will sign it ASAP. It will take time for all the changes to occur though.

For the trial and crime show junkies out there, don’t worry. The government can still obtain this information, but it will have to go through that pesky process of obtaining a warrant. Chalk one up for privacy activists.

Chances are the USA Freedom Act frustrated many in our government who are in charge of collecting information. Well, now they just might be pushed over the edge because Facebook has decided to help protect privacy rights.

Facebook announced that it will allow its users to add encryption keys to their profiles and can choose to have notification emails sent in an encrypted format. This basically means that, if you use these keys and format, no one can read the information unless they also have the key.

This makes your information on Facebook and that coming through Facebook incredibly hard for someone else to read. This would obviously frustrate attempts at data mining through Facebook, especially since there are claims that the government wouldn’t even be able to see the information with a subpoena. This will inevitably hurt prosecutions into terrorists, pedophiles and white-collar criminals.

Because of this recent announcement by Facebook I believe we will see a showdown between the social media powerhouse and our federal government. And, in my opinion, at the heart of that showdown will be the age old question: Which is more important, the privacy of one or the safety of all?

Stay tuned as this conflict will only grow.


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