Synthesis Matrix

How is, the NSA’s incorporating of their PRISM surveillance program effect the American people, and why should the American people know about such programs.

The American people need to know about how the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program monitors their social media and Google searches because:

Names of Authors Learning how the NSA operates can enable the public and legislators to see flaws in an already established system regarding privacy and security issues. Because it would protect their rights as citizens. The American people should know about this because it would lead the NSA to decide to be more cautious in doing false positives and maintain a respectable relationship and reputation with the government and American people. The actions of the NSA are justified because security of our nation is ranked supremely above all else.(counter argument)
Finkbeiner, Ann



 Edward Felten studies computer security at Princeton University in New Jersey, and claims that when researchers and the NSA work together, “there was a sense of certain lines that NSA wouldn’t cross, and now we’re not so sure about that.”  Many US researchers especially concerned with research based agenda accept what the NSA is doing like Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park; he asserts that “I understand what’s in the newspaper, but the NSA is funding serious long-term fundamental research and I’m happy they’re doing it.”
McKim, Robert



 Robert McKim CEO for M/S Database Marketing portrays that “Congress is also considering giving companies an incentive to improve security protection by making it easier for consumers to sue companies and the directors of companies that violate their privacy.”  Robert McKim CEO for M/S Database Marketing, illustrates in his article Privacy notices: What they mean and how marketers can prepare for them, that “Congress has begun to set ground rules by taking steps to regulate privacy in industries that deal with the most sensitive personal data: financial services, health providers and e-commerce companies that market to children.”

Landau, Susan


 Edward Snowden former NSA contractor and official leaker of many NSA classified files, has expressed his beliefs by stating that the “NSA and intelligence community in general is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by any means possible. It believes, on the grounds of sort of a self-certification, that they serve the national interest.”  Former President Al Gore stated that “The NSA surveillance in my view violates the Constitution…The Fourth Amendment language is crystal clear. It isn’t acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the Constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is.”  NSA director in 2001 General Michael Hayden suggested that empowering “the agency to collect communications…without a warrant would increase NSA’s speed and agility.”
 Madsen, Wayne



 NSA Director in 1997 General William Odom, was questioned on NSA lobbying and asserted that ”It’s a sense of talking to Members of Congress as we do on all sorts of legislation”… Odom never described what other legislation NSA actually ‘lobbied’ for or against.”  Wayne Madsen, an American investigative journalist, specializing in intelligence and international affairs, illustrates in his article that, “While NSA is seeking to expand its authority to cover the security of civilian government systems and even commercial systems, it has neglected to get its own house in order.”

Taslitz, E. Andrew


 Professor at Duke University School of Law illustrates in this article, “Indeed, to read most United States Supreme Court case law under the Fourth Amendment, one would be hard-pressed to see any mention or other indication of understanding of the indignation felt by people like the protesting Ybor City residents or Judge Kozinski. The Court generally, though not always, conceives of privacy as a cognitively driven issue, divorced from human emotion.”  Professor Taslitz in his article summed up what “right” people are looking for when it comes to privacy, “In short, we want to choose the masks that we show to others; any such loss of choice is painful, amounting almost to a physical violation of the self. When we are secretly watched, or when information that we choose to reveal to one audience is instead exposed to another, we lose that sense of choice.”

Jamali, R. Hamid and Asadi, Saeid


 Jamali is part of the Information Science program at Kharazmi University and Asadi is an Assistant Professor at Shahed University specializing in Information technology, and they both have illustrated through collecting data and research that, “Among the major search companies, Google has gained a reputation as one of the leading and most popular search engines. In 2006 in the USA there were 91 million queries searched daily on Google alone. The total number of queries searched daily on all search engines was 200 million ([30] Sullivan, 2006).” This hints that the NSA basing citizens off of Google searches may not be the most valid way of conducting surveillance and may be in endanger of creating a false positive.  Jamali and Asadi illustrate at exactly what the NSA might be unintentionally looking for that threatens the citizens’ privacy, “Information literacy skills may play a role in this type of information-seeking behavior”
Devine, Mansfield Steve



Nigel Cannings, technical director at Chase ITS explains the difficulty of intelligence gathering agencies face in decoding information from regular everyday conversations to what the agency is actually looking for, by providing a real life account(s), like the “Chinese takeaway” example in the article. Devine, a professional journalist illustrates that “False positives, however, can have more wide-ranging implications. Whereas a false negative mainly affects the organization running the system, a false positive can have consequences for the rest of us.” This brings up causes for concern about the citizens’ rights that may be violated by the NSA.  George Tubin, senior security strategist at Trusteer explains that false positives themselves may occur when an agency is trying to play it save and check all the procedures and information that is being presented in front of them, and that may very well cause “inconvenience” to citizens’.

Siraj Ahmed Shaikh is a reader in cyber-security at Coventry University, he explains how the NSA’s action could be overlooked and forgiven through this illustration. “The reason this is relevant to the current debate is because the technology used to filter, or identify patterns of interest, is very similar,” he explains. “Ultimately, there has to be some capture of traffic at some end, and then some analysis engine is deployed for that purpose.”

Devine also adds that “He explains that the phrase, ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’ is rendered null and void because everyone has something to fear from a false positive.”




 I believe that since Snowden’s recent leaks, there has been increased awareness amongst American people about privacy issues and have asked legislators to amend the current issues concerning privacy and security.  I strongly believe that educating the people about this was the rightful decision of the news and media to made, just following the days of Snowden’s leaks because, this will in the long run protect American rights, especially concerning the 1st and 4th Amendments.  I believe that the NSA now will work harder to try their best to avoid false positives in order to gain back a good reputation and relationship with the American people and the federal government as well.  While I agree with the counter argument, I still have reservations with it because America was founded on the principles of the constitution of the United States of America and the rights it holds to its citizens’ should be upheld even by governmentally associated agencies like the NSA. This is also why we have a system of checks and balances not only in just the Government but also in our society as a whole.



Finkbeiner, A. (2013, October 8). Researchers split over NSA hacking. nature news. Retrieved from

R McKim. (2001). Privacy notices: What they mean and how marketers can prepare for them. Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jdm.3240061

Landau, S. Making Sense from Snowden: What’s Significant in the NSA Surveillance Revelations. IEEE SECURITY & PRIVACY, 11, 66-75. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from

Madsen, W. National Security Agency cited for security problems. Computer Fraud & Security, 1997, 10-11. Retrieved July 8, 2014, from

Taslitz, A. (2002). The Fourth Amendment in the twenty-first century: Technology, Privacy, and human emotions. Law and Contemporary Problems. Durham: Duke University School of Law.

Jamali, H., & Asadi, S. Google and the scholar: the role of Google in scientists’ information-seeking behaviour. Online Information Review, 34, 282-294. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from

Mansfield-Devine, S. Monitoring communications: the false positive problem. Computer Fraud & Security, 2013, 5-11. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from

I was surprised at the amount of content my research had pulled together but I still do need some more research. The areas that I need to get more information on is the third question mainly stated above and also my counter argument. I plan to look over my sources again and see if there is any information that I might have overlooked while using them, and then further my research as needed from there. These two areas on my synthesis matrix are the major concerns that I hold regarding the gaps that are seen above.





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