In June of 2013, government contractor Edward Snowden gave an interview to reporters from The Guardian revealing the National Security Agency (NSA) had been secretly monitoring phone records of the American people. Phone companies, according to Snowden, have been turning over massive quantities of information detailing phone numbers used, emails, instant messages, and contact info, also referred to as metadata, to the NSA, which is storing them in a government database.
Using this metadata, the NSA can create maps and social networks of people which can reveal electronic traffic information that could potentially uncover the identities of people who threaten national security. Recent investigations uncovered evidence of secret tapping and monitoring of electronic devices belonging to heads of allied nations, such as Germany and France. The fallout from the Snowden confession has called into question the credibility and legality of government agencies, like the NSA.
The central question in this deliberation is whether or not the NSA’s activities are legal and should the NSA, a federal agency, continue such activities?