CS 261 Computers, the User and Society Fall 2020 

Paper 4 - Government Surveillance


Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US created secret policies and procedures that collected vast amounts of information on people around the world. Some of the data collection was of America citizens. In 2013, Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor released classified documents about the secret data collection program to the media.

After the program's disclosure, President Obama stated We have to strike the right balance between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms. A recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals states The panel held that the government may have violated the Fourth Amendment when it collected the telephony metadata of millions of Americans, including at least one of the defendants, pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A specific ruling on the constitutionality of the program was beyond the scope of the specific case.


Write a 750-1000 word paper discussing this issue. Give a brief overview, then discuss the positive and negative aspects of this surveillance. Finally, discuss where you think the right balance is between protecting our security and preserving our freedoms.

Base your paper on our class discussions, material in our text, and the resources below. Additional references can be used and should be appropriately cited.

Grading Rubric

Grade Element Point Assessment
Overview 10
Pros and Cons 60
Where is the Balance? 20
Mechanics and Writing
Include your name and a title for your paper. Your paper must a PDF with a 10-12 point font, a professional font face, and 1-1.5" margins. Your paper should be free of typos and grammatical errors. Your paper should be well organized and enjoyable to read.
Total 100


Email me a copy of your paper as a PDF.


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