My opinion on the NSA and this whole PRISM thing and Edward Snowden?
It's bad. But in some ways that may surprise you more than others.
Well, firstly I don't particularly have a problem with the technology and software itself or its purpose. I think that in our modern technological age, surveillance of this scale may be necessary in order for a government to successfully keep the peace. It's a natural progression of how security and law enforcement is to become. Without it, we would be increasingly subject to the dangers that technology can have.
What I do have a problem with is the processes. The secret federal courts, secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act, pocketed judges and politicians, lack of full disclosure to our lawmakers, etc is what I have a problem with. Personally, I think that all of the surveillance should be automatic. Meaning, it collects information on the entire population. And I also believe it should collect far more than merely meta-data. The problem then is securing that information and ensuring that there is a transparent and unbiased process in acquiring access to said information. I believe that the process of granting warrants must also become automated. The law should start to become automated by an artificial intelligence system. The law is to be fed into the AI system, the "spirit" of the law is to be written and fed into it, the precedents and existing cases need to be fed into it, etc. Once the AI has all that data, it will be able to successfully make judgments on whether a particular case has sufficient evidence to justify the release of a warrant. The work then is on the interpreters of the law, to double check the work of the AI in order to make sure that everything is going smoothly. This removes biases, pocketed judges, corruption, etc.
Want to fix our justice system? I've got the answer. Automate it all. Automate the government.
Now, as for Edward Snowden. I think it's a shame in how the US is treating the man. His actions, though illegal in technicalities, have revealed a gross disregard for the law. While I do believe Edward Snowden should face some kind of consequence, such as being forbidden to work in government intelligence, I do not think that the US should revoke his citizenship, demonize him, and set him up for failure if faced by the Grand Jury in Virginia. I will say however, that there are undoubtedly situations where things should remain classified and to have a low level guy like Snowden have access to stuff like that is a serious breach in security and the government needs to plug those holes.
All in all, it all boils down to the process. Must fix the process. The public does not need to know about classified surveillance efforts. But the elected officials on the Intelligence Committee of congress need to know EVERY detail. And the omission of such information to the entrusted parties must have severe consequences against agencies like the NSA, CIA, etc that lie and refuse to provide congress with the information it needs in order to appropriately decide how these things should be regulated and controlled.
That's just my 2 cents on the matter. What are your thoughts on it?