What is NSA? What is its role in your online privacy?
Are you wondering: “What does NSA mean?” If you are reading this, you’re probably concerned that the government might be spying on you and keeping tabs on your online activities. You might also be wondering about the pros and cons of NSA surveillance… are our online activities private?
In this article, we'll take a good look at whether or not the government is spying on you and what you can do about it. So let's get right to it!
What is The NSA (National Security Agency)?
So first things first — What does NSA mean? Or rather, what does NSA stand for? Simply put, NSA is an acronym that stands for "National Security Agency" — a United States government agency whose sole purpose is to ensure the security of United States communications and data information systems.
The NSA was founded in 1952 when it was known as the "National Security Agency/Central Security Service." In 2005, its name changed from NSCS to NSA — though many still refer to it by its original acronym.
In 2013, Edward Snowden leaked classified documents that showed how much information the NSA collects about American citizens' phone calls, emails, texts, and social media activity without any warrant or probable cause. These leaks have led some people to believe that America has become an Orwellian society where “Big Brother” can watch you at all times through your electronic devices.
What Does the NSA Monitor?
The NSA monitors the Internet and phone usage of millions of people. The agency collects metadata about who you call and when you call them, how long your calls are, where they're made from, and possibly what's said in these conversations. It also stores billions of text messages sent by cell phones every day… and it might be monitoring your email too.
The NSA gathers so much information that they're able to do things like tell what's on your TV screen from the other side of the world or track a person's location based on their phone use.
If the Snowden leaks are to be believed, it is said that NSA wants to know everything about you — who you are, where you live and work, who your friends are, etc. Even more troubling is that they have the technology to do it.
The Pros and Cons of NSA Surveillance
Of course, NSA operations are not all doom and gloom for the average law-abiding citizen. To be fair, there are pros and cons of government surveillance that are well worth considering.
Consider the following benefits of NSA surveillance:
- The NSA has saved countless lives through the use of surveillance. In one example, a potential terrorist was caught and arrested in 2011 after discovering an email intercept from the NSA to their contact abroad. That person had planned on launching an attack against New York City using suicide vests and car bombs — all thwarted thanks to NSA surveillance.
- NSA intelligence is used to prevent cyber attacks on US infrastructure, such as power plants and water facilities — a step that has saved countless lives in the aftermath of these assaults. The consequences would be catastrophic for the US if they failed to use this service offered by the government agency.
- The NSA can capture terrorist communications and provide warnings of impending attacks. This is a pro because the US government could be alerted to an attack before it has happened, giving them time to protect themselves or evacuate people from areas that may come under fire.
- In addition, law enforcement officials use information acquired by the NSA for tracking down criminals who have committed crimes such as distributing child pornography, kidnapping, or drug trafficking.
What about the cons?
- It is a violation of your privacy, and the government has no right to access it.
- NSA surveillance imposes on the freedom of citizens to provide safety for all Americans.
- Some argue that there should not be NSA surveillance because it violates the Fourth Amendment rights by tapping into personal communications.
- Some say that because we now have an expectation of privacy when it comes to our private conversations, recorded texts, and emails — which are usually stored on our computers or mobile devices — we are entitled to the same protection when it comes to storing data on a third party's servers.
- Law enforcement officials can obtain this personal information without your knowledge or consent if you're suspected of criminal activity.
How to Block NSA Surveillance — Use ClearVPN
Now that you've learned about the pros and cons of government surveillance, you might be wondering — what is an ordinary citizen to do to protect their privacy and block government tracking? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.
The most effective method is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service, which encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server. This prevents your ISP or the government from monitoring your online activities. If they try to interrupt any of this encrypted data, all that will show up is a garbled mess of indecipherable data.
ClearVPN offers some of the best prices on VPN services in general, with packages starting at only $12.99 for one month of unlimited bandwidth usage. This means you can enjoy their high-level encryption to browse any site whenever you want without worry.
Getting started is easy and can be accomplished in a few simple steps:
- Install ClearVPN on your device (we use macOS as an example in the picture below)
- Open the app and activate Browse Privately and Securely shortcut.
- That’s it! Your online journey is protected and private.
Top 3 FAQ on The NSA
What is the NSA allowed to do?
The NSA is allowed to intercept, collect, and analyze electronic communications. The NSA also can monitor any computer in the world with access to certain international cables or wireless networks. This includes emails, text messages, phone calls (both cell phone and landline), Google Maps searches, Facebook posts — anything that can be monitored online is a possible target.
Does the NSA watch my phone?
The NSA (National Security Agency) does not explicitly target individual Americans. However, suppose you are communicating with someone reasonably believed to be outside of the US and a suspected terrorist or spy. In that case, they can intercept and monitor your phone without a warrant.
What is the difference between the CIA and the NSA?
The CIA is the Central Intelligence Agency. It collects intelligence from around the world to help protect US interests and its people. The NSA is a different animal altogether, providing signals intelligence to members of military communities to identify threats within America's borders.
Let’s Wrap It Up
So there you have it — the answer to “What does NSA mean?” and what its operations mean to the average American citizen. We hope that this information will help you better understand what is going on in society today regarding privacy/security and implement ways to protect yourself adequately.