Balancing National Security and Individual Rights

  • Amitai Etzioni
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Studies in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity book series (PSCYBER)


This chapter deals with the issues that followed from the disclosures in 2013 about the National Security Administrations (NSA) two surveillance programs. One, known as Bulk Collection of Telephone Metadata, collects, stores, and analyzes the records of a significant portion of the phone calls made and received in the United States (from here on, this program will be referred to as phone surveillance). The other, known as PRISM, collects private electronic communications from a number of online providers such as Google and Facebook and is focused on non-Americans.1 This chapter focuses on the specific issues raised by these two programs, although both programs have attributes and raise issues that are also relevant to other national security programs. I draw on a liberal communitarian approach in its assessment of the issues at hand. Section A of this chapter discusses this approach. Section B responds to critics of the programs who hold that such surveillance is neither needed nor effective. Section C examines the specific grounds on which phone surveillance has been criticized and justified. Section D lays out a similar analysis regarding the PRISM program. Section E examines the alternative ways both surveillance programs may be better controlled, on the grounds that the more the government conducts surveillance the more it needs to be watched.


National Security Foreign National Fourth Amendment Phone Company Transportation Security Administration 
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© Amitai Etzioni 2015

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  • Amitai Etzioni

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