The millennial generation through the past several decades has lived through American presidencies that have been awful for privacy rights, especially in the age of technology we find ourselves in.
The right to privacy, which should be protected under the 4th Amendment, has all but eroded due to the creation of the modern surveillance state, brought on by the war on terror. Conversely, as Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States today, American citizens, and millennials in particular, need to be reassured that the constitutional rights of privacy will be protected.
4th Amendment protections came under attack as President Obama expanded the U.S. surveillance state to its current size. During Obama’s tenure, tech companies have been coerced by the government to develop “backdoor” programs into software and devices, federal law enforcement has nearly unmatched hacking power, and the national security regime can conduct warrantless surveillance on law-abiding citizens. In fact, the intelligence community has grown, under the past administrations, to encompass seventeen defense and civilian executive branch agencies with a total 2014 “on-the-books” budget of $67.9 billion. Several of these agencies have had or still have collection and spying programs that operate domestically.
The risks for millennials under the coming years are centered on privacy issues when it comes to technology usage and the internet. Just the past few years, the United States was rocked with several controversial 4th Amendment debates, like the civil suit between Apple Inc. and the FBI. Apple and the FBI went to court over the agency circumventing the privacy rights of users, in response to the San Bernardino shooting carried out by radical Islamic terrorists. Since then, Apple has made the operating systems for iPhones and other Apple products more invasive to court orders and law enforcement, especially in the case where a warrant is not issued.
The U.S. Congress, that same year, passed the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA. CISA mandated the creation of a voluntary sharing system, in which companies share private user data and proprietary information with government agencies censoring sensitive data for cyber security concerns. However, the legislation allowed for agencies like the FBI and the National Security Agency to access that data uncensored, giving analysts unwarranted information on persons of interest.
Regardless of the past, the message here is to Donald Trump on his big day. Liberals and conservatives want to have their civil liberties preserved and restored. However, we can’t enjoy them if big brother is constantly overlooking our every move on our digital footprint.
President Obama was awful for privacy; but, Trump doesn’t have to be. If he truly wants to respect the rights of all Americans, even the slightest reign in of the surveillance state can go a long way.