Recently, presidential hopeful, Senator, Rand Paul posted a statement affirming he would shut down the National Security Agency’s (NSA) largest data center, the Utah Data Center (UDC). In his status update, Senator Rand Paul stated, “bulk data collection must end!”
It’s ironic that Senator Rand Paul took to Facebook to post his disdain for bulk methods of collecting data. Facebook is presumed to be one of the main companies providing data to the government using PRISM, UDC’s top-secret data collection operations.
The Need for Data Collection
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the need for information to protect the United States became increasingly important. With more information about the movements of potential terrorists, the government can anticipate and eliminate potential threats.
Under Section 702 of FISA, the NSA gathers information about foreigners where analysts have a ‘reasonable belief’ that information is being gathered on a foreign national.
However, it’s illegal to deliberately collect data on American citizens and people within the United States, but it happens.
Ambivalence towards Data Collection in America
Among Americans, there is a wide range of feelings concerning the NSA’s ability to use methods of collecting data to gather information about their day-to-day activities. Many people feel that securing the United States is critical, and they are willing to forego some of their privacy.
On the other hand, there are many Americans who share the same sentiment as Senator Rand Paul. They believe that the NSA is violating their Fourth Amendment rights. But, how is data collected by the government less intrusive than that of companies that collect data about consumers daily?
The Methods of Collecting Data That Companies Use
Companies continually collect data from consumers using radio-frequency identification (RFID). RFIDs are not always noticeable, in fact, many people purchase and wear clothing with RFIDs always present and active.
Companies use this information to glean more information about consumers’ shopping patterns. As a result, many companies can manufacture and deliver products customers need and want, which most people like and look forward to each day.
However, not all companies have good intentions. Without access to information about customers, many businesses won’t be able to remain innovative, and they would possibly go out of business.
A World without Data Collection
Can you imagine a world without data collection? A world in which no business was allowed to use any methods of collecting data whatsoever? The negative impact it would have on your life is becoming increasingly more significant.
You wouldn’t be able to drive your automobile since your SATNAV system constantly transmits and stores information about where you are and where you have been. Public transportation wouldn’t be an option since most buses and trains utilize payment cards to process your payment.
Although walking seems like a likely option, CCTV cameras are everywhere, constantly recording who passes along the streets.
More importantly, you wouldn’t be able to work. Employers gather information about their employees constantly. From the hours an employee works to who their beneficiaries are on their life insurance, preventing employers from collecting this information negatively impacts your ability to maintain an income for your household.
Data collection is a part of Americans’ day-to-day life. Businesses collect just as much information about consumers as the government does, but with a goal that is selfish and profit-driven; the complete opposite of NSA’s altruistic intentions of keeping America safe.
Everywhere and at all times, some entity is collecting data on you, especially businesses, security agencies, and the government. To completely avoid all methods of collecting data, you would have to strip your life of every modern day convenience you’ve grown to love, including your very reliable smartphone.
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