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Where does protection end and infringements on rights begin?

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Spy programs have been around for hundreds of years. The traditional, cold-war-style way of spying was implanting people into another government posing as members of their own party and relaying information back to the home country.

Later came the advent of technology; wire taps were planted and short-wave radio transmissions were intercepted. Covert espionage was used against foreign nations or parties only. Now, with modern technology, things have changed slightly.

The current debate that is raging globally is whether or not any government has the right to collect information on its own citizens as a means to help ‘protect them.’ This debate is currently being played out in Canada, as well as the United States, with Edward Snowden as the face of the battle, and other developed countries. With the technology to track people via cell phones and intercept electronic communications, even going so far as to intercept physical packages in route, alter them, and resend them without anyone the wiser, espionage has come a long way in the last few decades.

Currently, with legislation playing out on all fronts, the actual legality of the issue appears to be quite murky. In mid-December, a US Federal Judge ruled that the spying program may be unconstitutional. That, however, is certainly not stopping the Obama Administration’s efforts to keep the programs live and functioning as per the status quo.

In an article by Fox News that broke a few days ago, they reported that the Obama Administration is trying to defend their right to spy on US citizens. It has taken steps to continue it’s program, including ‘…appealing a major ruling against the agency while winning permission from a secretive court to continue collecting Americans' phone records.’

What secretive court this is, it certainly isn’t transparent. While a secret ruling from a secretive court may not be of great consolation to anyone, it really underscores the whole issue: Privacy. Classified and top secret information cannot be litigated in the public sphere where the electorate can actually weigh in and have some say in what happens. It’s almost a catch 22. The only option citizens of these countries have is to vote with their actual vote on Election Day based on less-than-perfect information.

Regardless of an individual’s stance on this issue, it appears as though in the United States, as well as in Canada, these programs are here to stay; at least for a while. A person unhappy with this aspect of life in the developed world might want to start brushing up on their Spanish and looking at some interesting facts about Mexico, because that is probably the best option in order to avoid these types of programs; they are quite prolific throughout the world. Apparently.

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