Government:Extent to Which the Government Should Intrude Into the Life ofCitizens

Government:Extent to Which the Government Should Intrude Into the Life ofCitizens

Thewar against terrorism requires the use modern techniques to detectthe risks of attack before they occur. However, the use of technologyby criminals to organize and execute terror plans increases thedifficulty of gathering the relevant evidence. Supporters of the ideaof total liberty hold that the government should not conductsurveillance and search on technology-based platforms since suchactions would be inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution(Lafave &amp Israel, 2013). Citizens should understand that timeshave changed, and a conservative interpretation of the constitutionsubjects them to the risk of terror attacks.

Byallowing government to search the email as well as phoneconversations, the country can prevent tens to hundreds of terroristattacks every year. The effectiveness of government’s intrusion inpreventing terror attacks was proven by a report issued by theNational Security Agency (NSA) indicating that over 50 major attackshad been thwarted by 2013 (Elliott &amp Meyer, 2013). Thesurveillance exercise gives security officers a chance to remainproactive, instead of reacting to terror attacks that have alreadycaused damage. Monitoring of the email, phone, and othertechnology-based forms of conversation allow security agents todiscover terror plans before they are executed. In the modern world,protection of life supersedes liberty because people who are killedby terrorist do not have the opportunity to enjoy the privacy thatthey have been fighting for.

Therestrictions put in place by the law (such as the Fourth Amendment)are not intended to hinder surveillance, but to ensure that thegovernment’s right to intrude into citizen’s privacy is notabused. For example, the Fourth Amendment requires security agencies(such as the NSA) to obtain a warrant before searching email andphone conversation (Lafave &amp Israel, 2013). The purpose of thisrequirement is not to prevent the NSA from being proactive, but itensures that the search and surveillance are backed by adequateevidence. The law also ensures that the search is conductedselectively in order to ensure that the government is only permittedto intrude into the privacy of people who are suspected of beinglinked to terror groups. Therefore, the government can intrude intoany part of citizen’s life but there should be adequate evidence toassociate the persons being searched with criminal activities.

Modifyingthe Fourth Amendment

TheFourth Amendment was established at a time when the use of technologyto facilitate terrorist activities was not a challenge to anyone.However, the amendment still allows the government to investigateterror activities that are planned and executed on the internetwithout the need to rewrite it. For example, the government can usethe Fourth Amendment as it is to search and seize suspects, as longas the security agents obtain warrants (Lafave &amp Israel, 2013).Proponents of the idea that the Fourth Amendment should be rewrittenargue that a requirement to obtain a warrant limits the ability ofsecurity officers to collect evidence and intervene in the cases ofemergency. However, the Fourth Amendment provides some exemptions,where suspects can be searched provided that the government candemonstrate the existence of a probable cause (Lafave &amp Israel,2013). Therefore, the framers of the constitution had foreseenpotential security challenges when formulating the Fourth Amendment,which implies that the government does not need to rewrite it with anexcuse of protect citizens.

ThePatriot Act

Althoughthe Patriot Act was enacted with the objective of enhancing theprocess of gathering evidence by intelligence officers, it has someprovisions that should be opposed by anyone who values liberty. Forexample, the act allows security officers to use a basic searchwarrant, instead of a surveillance warrant to access voicemails ofindividual citizens (Panetta, 2011). This permits security agents touse flimsy reasons to infringe the rights to privacy since a basicsearch warrant is issued with a lower evidentiary. In addition, theact violates citizens’ rights to privacy by authorizing securityagents to apply a type of warrant referred to as sneak-and-peak.Security officers can use the warrant to postpone the act ofnotifying the owner of a property about the issuance ofsneak-and-peak (Panetta, 2011). The act creates an opportunity forsecurity officers to bypass the provisions of the Fourth Amendment,which makes it unconstitutional. Therefore, the Patriot Act wascreated in good faith, but it should be rejected since it can beabused by security agents to infringe the citizens’ right to enjoyliberty.

Inconclusion, the government should have the legal authority to intrudeinto people’s privacy. However, adequate measures should be put inplace to ensure that the government intrudes into lives of peoplesuspected of being linked to terror groups only. The existing set oflaws (including the Fourth Amendment) has taken care of the concernsof security agencies by allowing them to search and seize suspects aslong as there is adequate evidence to associate them with terrorgroups. The government has no reason to rewrite the Fourth Amendment.The sneak-and-peak warrant is unconstitutional and should berejected. Therefore, government’s intrusion is appropriate, but itshould be limited to the suspects of heinous crimes.


Elliott,J. &amp Meyer, T. (2013). Claim on “attacks” thwarted by NSAspreads despite lack of evidence. Journalismin the Public Interest.Retrieved July 12, 2016, from

Lafave,R. &amp Israel, H. (2013). Fourth Amendment: An overview. CornellUniversity Law School.Retrieved July 12, 2016, from

Panetta,T. (2011). TheUSA Patriot Act.New York: Palgrave MacMillan.