Complacency may come with a price | Publisher's column

By Keven Graves

Hearing that the National Security Agency is accessing data from U.S. cell phone records and surveilling online communications is chilling.

But the nonchalant response that some Americans are expressing in response to those reports is alarming.

The NSA has been collecting phone records of hundreds of millions of Americans each day. With that information, the agency is reportedly creating a database that would enable the government to target terror suspects in contact with people in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the NSA and FBI carried out a secret program called PRISM, one that purportedly allows them to tap directly into nine major Internet-based companies. In doing so, video, audio, emails and photographs are among the information being collected.

Again, the intent is to identify any suspicious information stemming from overseas.

Without a doubt, our post-Sept. 11 world is vastly different from before the terrorist attack. Americans have accepted the elevated security measures with little backlash other than to complain about inconvenience at times.

In the wake of revelations about the government’s data collecting programs, President Obama said that Americans must balance privacy and security.

On our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WhidbeyNews there were a variety of responses. Some expressed legitimate concerns.

“It’s obscene for any administration, Democrat or otherwise,” one Oak Harbor resident posted on the WNT Facebook page. “At what point do we lose the very freedoms and civil liberties we claim to be protecting?”

Some, however, shrugged their shoulders and remarked that they have nothing to hide, so it doesn’t matter. Others commented that it’s probably just government as usual, something we just need to accept.

And there were people who said they are happy that the government and NSA are keeping all Americans safe from terrorism no matter what the means.

Yes, all of us want to feel safe on American soil, but at what cost?

Complacency and apathy among Americans is a slippery slope. It may carry a higher price than any of us realize. We should not be giving Obama or the rest of the government a pass on these violations of privacy.

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