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The National Security Agency can secretly access user data provided by as many as fifty American companies, ranging from credit rating agencies to internet service providers.
The furor this week over this NSA snoop scandal is fascinating to me. The snooping really isn’t news, as it has been known for years that the NSA delves into these kinds of records in its effort to identify terrorist activity.
So, why the sudden furor and outrage? Up until a few weeks ago, most Americans assumed the federal government restricted this kind of snooping to foreign sources and to specifically hunting for terrorists. Now, however, after the IRS scandal, the public realizes that this government, under Obama at least, is quite willing to abuse its power for partisan political reasons. Under Obama, the IRS was used to target innocent Americans, merely because they disagreed with Obama. The public now realizes that it is also likely that this administration will abuse its access to the private information gathered by NSA, and that sends chills up people’s spines.
Thus, the furor. This kind of snooping is suddenly perceived as a real threat to Americans.