In the past couple of months, Americans and inquiring minds around the world have learned of the U.S. government’s significant breaches of privacy as they went about conducting wide-ranging surveillance that went beyond their perceived parameters. In recent news, it seems that Americans and suspected terrorists weren’t the only ones that the U.S. government has been tracking and spying on…and a few international governments are seeking answers.
Computer hacking and telephone record collection are just some of the things that the United States government has done…all in the supposed name of combatting terrorism. However, reports and records leaked to reporters and the public have shed light on a serious misuse of power – courtesy of former security contractor Edward Snowden, who fled the U.S. in search of safety after blowing the cover of the NSA’s activities.
On one hand, Snowden is viewed as a threat to the government as he obviously carries vital information that is detrimental to the U.S. government. On the other hand, the American public would not have known what the National Security Agency has been doing above and beyond the activities we were initially led to believe they do/did.
Snowden not only informed Americans to the various breaches of privacy and the surveillance that the government does, but also alerted the higher-ups of other countries that have been involved in their activities. Foreign lands who are expressing their dismay and anger over the news are Mexico and France – countries that are demanding an explanation from Washington as to why the National Security Agency have secretly recorded tens of millions of phone calls in France, as well as hacked into the email account of Felipe Calderon, the former Mexican President.
News of NSA’s international activities hit the headlines of the French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel, and has left representatives for the countries involved ‘shocked,’ as French Interior Minister Manuel Valls stated in a recent interview with Europe 1 radio. Le Monde’s online site reported that Snowden’s documents revealed the NSA taped 70.3 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period between December 10 and January 8 of 2013. In a program that the Agency dubbed ‘US-985D,’ certain phone numbers in France were pinpointed for communications collection, which also included the gathering of text messages.
According to Le Monde, the documents have led many to believe that the NSA targeted people suspected of being involved in terrorism, but also included high-profile individuals with connections in business or politics. France and Mexico are seeking answers, as the Mexican government called the practice “unacceptable, illegitimate and contrary to Mexican law and international law.”
In response to the call for an explanation, representatives for the U.S. have not made a comment on what they refer to as ‘classified documents.’ Since the Snowden leak, President Obama has proposed reforms concerning the United States’ surveillance programs. Snowden has received temporary asylum and is currently in Russia, as the U.S. lists him as a wanted man, and would like to see him stand trial for espionage and other charges related to the NSA information leak.