U.S. Cybersurveillance in the Post-Snowden Era

Russell L. Weaver


[extract] In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed to the public that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was operating a massive, secret, cybersurveillance operation, thereby touching off a national debate regarding the permissibility and desirability of the NSA program. In the ensuing years, both Congress and the American public debated fundamental issues regarding the relationship between the citizen and the government. Entwined up in these debates were issues relating to national security, especially the need to detect and apprehend potential terrorists, against the citizenry’s interest in privacy against governmental surveillance and intrusion.

Now that five years have passed since the Snowden disclosures, it is appropriate to reflect on how these societal debates have played out. In the interim, much has happened. In addition to the congressional and societal debates regarding whether government should be conducting such an operation, there have been efforts to litigate regarding the permissibility of that program. Further, the U.S. Congress has voted twice on the extent to which governmental cyber-surveillance should be allowed to continue. This article analyzes how Congress and the American people have responded to the Snowden revelations.

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