During the previous lecture I gave a presentation regarding the nature and relation of American privacy to modern security measures. During the lecture I talked about the different generally accepted definitions of privacy and free speech. I also discussed the historical basis for the rights generally enjoyed by Americans. My main sources for the presentation material were The Jurist: Legal News & Research, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation article: Bill of Rights in Action. This argument is a perfect example of the question of who controls the media. It raises the question as to whether or not the media is really a free form of expression.
During the presentation I described several ways in which the PATRIOT Act have threatened various freedoms and liberties which are supposed to be protected by the Constitution. I touched on the fact that the PATRIOT Act has made provisions for striping rights and liberties when the federal government deems it necessary. While the Constitution specifically made sure that freedoms would be protected these freedoms have been threatened in the post 9/11 world. Terrorism is still considered a very real threat. As such the Bush administration took steps that it deemed necessary to protect America and American citizens.
The research I did lead to a very interesting discussion following my presentation. I was surprised to learn that some of my classmates believed that the government had already had vast powers of surveillance before the PATRIOT Act. Our discussion lead me to conclude that this is a result of either a paranoid idea of the government or of a thought that the government is already very involved in the various aspects of citizens’ lives. Since most people do keep at least some kind of close contact with the media it makes sense that everyone would have some kind of opinion about the media and government control.
One idea which I did find particularly interesting was that of one student who said that he was generally trustful of the government and did not succumb to an idea of paranoia in regards to the federal government. This student outlined the fact that he doesn’t do anything that would merit the federal government to look into his affairs. I pointed out that while that may be the case the fact the government has the ability to look into his affairs underneath the PATRIOT Act is what I find unsettling.
Overall I have enjoyed the process of preparing my case study. I learned a lot and feel like I am more aware of the different aspects of government surveillance. In conclusion I just have one question to pose to my fellow students. In light of the aspects of the PATRIOT Act which I have brought to light, who do you think really controls the media? And who do you think controls your intake of media, and who is able to access your media output?