Paper 2 and haiku (blog 8)

Unplug Big Brother

Don’t Spy On Me Please

“But It Is For Your Safety”

Okay Spy On Me

The catastrophic events that took place on September 11, 2001 dramatically changed the course of our nation, and the world, forever. The American government began an aggressive policy of combating any further attempts at terrorism, at home and abroad, at any cost. One such method was the USA PATRIOT Act, which allowed for the surveillance of US citizens via wiretapping, searches of records, and monitoring of specific individuals suspected of terrorist activities. In the years since, massive whistleblowing efforts like Edward Snowden’s recent NSA scandal have brought to light the extent to which government surveillance has impacted the lives of many.


Some people are just fine with giving away some personal privacy in exchange for security. Many others, though, are not okay with the government monitoring their movements in the name of national security. A recent march on Washington took place last week that saw thousands of protestors demanding that we should “unplug big brother.” That is to say, government surveillance and the PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional (and potentially unethical). Joking about wiretapping of cell phones and text messages, one woman held up a sign saying: “That nudie was for more boyfriend, you pig!” (I was going to make that the title to this blog but decided it could have been misleading for what you were going to read here). Average citizens aren’t the only ones affected by PATRIOT; many companies have had to alter the way that business is conducted to be up to code with the regulations enforced by the act.

But have the PATRIOT Act and subsequent government surveillance efforts actually been effective in minimizing terrorism in the US? How can the government ethically justify spying on its own citizens? These are some of the questions I intend to address through paper two and the white paper. From my initial research and hypotheses, I believe that a consequentialist approach to ethics would justify such an act; the ends of eliminating terrorism justify the means of personal privacy being violated. But I am still not convinced the PATRIOT Act is the reason another 9/11 hasn’t taken place. I can’t think of a topic I am more passionate about that touches on the issues of business, government, and society than this one, and I am looking forward to getting started on this next assignment.

4 thoughts on “Unplug Big Brother

  1. Great paper topic. I have found this debate very interesting, but unfortunately haven’t done any research myself. Personally, I am fine with the government impeding on my personal privacy in exchange for some security but there is no way to know how much the government knows or what they do. And because of that I always feel a bit uneasy, and not sure if they are able to truly justify what they do.

  2. Ha you should have made the nudie the title, crazy. I don’t have a problem being spied on if it leads to good and once information is viewed it isn’t stored unless suspicious. I think that in this day and age it could really help us to catch the “bad guys.” But filing away millions and millions of data points about people, which is currently what happens, is so not necessary and makes me feel as if black mail could be used on any of us at any time and that does not make me feel any “safer.”

  3. I love your post. It is both so comical and so topical. I agree with a lot of the points you are making about the real impact the governments intrusiveness is having on our safety? Has it had any real influence on minimizing terrorists attacks? If the boston bombings is any type of evidence, then i think not really.

  4. I think you are over reaching in some of your questions. One is whether the costs and benefits of the PATRIOT act make it a moral piece of legislation. A second is why a particular terrorist group attacked or didn’t. You do not want to put the burden on your paper to prove if the act thwarted attacks- moreover, it is not the case that there have been no attacks. Just no catastrophic “successes” for AlQ.

    THe Patriot act itself is a HUGE piece of legislation and you will swim in information. I wonder if there is even a part of it to examine. For example, the process of wire-tapping without warrants certain people. If you start with a summary of the bill, maybe you can narrow down some for this paper.

    Then your white paper can quite neatly pivot and address the overall policy framework for balancing privacy and security, which, in some ways, is very old. Just look at all ten rights in the bill of rights. One is to not have soldiers quartered in your home.

    Our political history is steeped in distrust of government power… and the “trust us” mentality of government in the post 9/11 world creates friction with political systems originally designed to limit government power.

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