The Instigator
Con (against)
6 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

NSA's Mass Data Mining

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 636 times Debate No: 48437
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




Pro shall support the continued usage of the NSA's data mining in all its invasive glory, and I shall support the discontinuation of the data mining.

First Round is for Acceptance, if you have any questions please PM me or leave it in the comments.


I look forward to a good debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting Plastamatrix.

Slippery Slope
Later in my argument I will be providing evidence for the ineffectiveness of the NSA, but this argument can apply to a theoretical NSA that is effective at keeping Americans safe.

I personally do not object to what the NSA represents on its own. If you look at the NSA in a small picture kind of way, you see a group that (supposedly) intends to put safety ahead of privacy, something that isn't a supremely radical idea. Few people are willing to say their privacy is worth more than the safety of others, and so few people who are looking short term should be willing to oppose this mass data mining.

However, it's when you take a step and look at the big picture that you see the NSA is a step in the wrong direction, even if it is not inherently harmful on its own. That is because allowing the NSA to collect data on all of our actions is an act of surrender. We're allowing a right that we've lived with for a while (privacy) be taken away. The pretext is appropriate enough, but what will this lead to? If we say, "Yeah this is ok, because it will protect people!", where does that take us? There are plenty of ways to protect people that involve losing your rights. If we allow this data mining we are sending the message that as long as there's a pretext for it, our rights don't come first. If we don't take a stand somewhere, we could lose all our independence to big brother.

So maybe now you're wondering why it matters that we're on the slippery slope of lost rights. Some people may think of a society where freedoms like free expression and right to privacy are severely restricted, but everyone is safe. And people may think that these societies, while something we may not be accustomed to, are ultimately preferable to the one we have now, thanks to the increased safety. The people who come to that conclusion are not realizing exactly what that lack of rights brings about. If the populace doesn't have their common rights, all power resides in an extremely small minority. This is bad because man has shown over and over again that power corrupts. Perhaps you get one or two good rulers that receive ultimate power and use it justly, but eventually bad men come about, or if judgement isn't your thing, corruptible men. Corruption grows like a mold.

And what happens when these corrupt men take the mantle and are given this absolute power? We needn't go back more than a century to see what. I'll reference the Holocaust. Hitler wielded supreme power, and he abused it. Between 11 million and 17 million people died during the Holocaust[1], and that doesn't even count the soldiers that died in WW2. This relates to the topic because the people of Germany had ceded all the power to a very small minority (The Nazi Party and specifically Hitler), which is exactly the path we are on. We are ceding more and more of our rights--rights which are intended to prevent abuses and keep an appropriate balance of power.

Some people may think this doesn't make any sense. However, all throughout history there has been fighting and major abuses of power. It's a cycle, one we need to fight. If we allow our freedoms to be taken away, we are allowing massive abuses of power to occur down the line. We are damning our progeny to horrendous events.

To the people who think the kind of blind devotion and followership seen by the German people could ever be repeated, think about the internet. The internet really embodies free speech in my opinion, it does in America at least. Everything is there. You can learn about other cultures and peoples online. It takes you out of your limited view of the world and makes you realize that your country isn't the only one that matters in the world (for some of us at least). While the German people didn't have the internet, you can bet they didn't take the time to learn about other cultures or peoples. If they did, they'd have had a harder time stomaching what they did. But since the information they received was controlled, they were basically programmed to act in the ways they did.

The same could happen to us, if we continue down this slippery slope. Sure, right now they're just asking to watch us while we're on the internet and making our phone calls, but imagine 30 years from now. If the next generation grows up used to the government watching them online, more of them would be ok with the restriction of certain information on the net in order to keep people safe, at least that'd be the pretext. It's a gradual process, but we could end up being fed the information the government wants us to have. Once we're propagandized and brainwashed, any number of terrible abuses could occur. Maybe it's not even fighting other countries or ethnicities, but it's just massive mistreatment by your extremely powerful government.

It could be the fat cats cutting money out of necessary healthcare programs and stashing that in their bank accounts.
It could be stupidly high taxes in the name of 'national security', but actually for stashing in their bank accounts.
Any dissenters would be taken in the night. People would be too brainwashed to see it as anything but ok.
It could be your government staging attacks on their own people to frame another country.
It could be your country being led into war with another for the interests of the minority, with little dissent.
It could be the people finally waking up, leading to a horribly bloody revolt.

All of these things would lead to much bloodshed. All of these things could come about if power was ceded entirely to the rulers.

Utilitarian Perspective
I think it's logical to assume that most people who'd support the actions of the NSA do it from a Utilitarian perpective. They reason that a life is worth more than privacy, and thus are in support of the sacrifice. But given the big picture that I've laid out, can you really come to the Utilitarian conclusion that the NSA isn't heading in the wrong direction? Look at the possibility for mass bloodshed down the road (thanks to the amassed power in one group), versus having it harder to thwart a terrorist attack (that's assuming the NSA even works).

Weigh these numbers: less than 3,000 in the 9/11 attacks[2], versus the Holocaust, and versus civil war in Syria, which has documented roughly 90,000 deaths[3]. All of these are possibilities depending on what course we take. You know what events represent which course, and you know which are worse.

NSA's Ineffectiveness
Not only is the long-term effect of the trend the NSA's mass data mining is continuing bad, the short term effect looks bad too. That is to say, the NSA has no positive effect. An independent watchdog group, founded on the sole basis of providing unbiased reports, has declared the NSA's data mining has had no special effect on stopping any attacks[4]. Not only that, but the usage of mass data may even harm the hunt for terrorists[5][6]. The Boston Marathon Bombers left many signs, yet the NSA never caught them before they committed their act. Massive amounts of data prevents true police work from occurring. There is too much data for people to look over, and so the job is left to computer algorithms, algorithms which are without flashes of inspiration or other necessary qualities in the kind of work needed to put evidence together to stop an attack. If you look through the links provided you see that the attacks the NSA says they've prevented could've been done without mass data mining.

Even if the data mining was effective, it'd be a step in the wrong direction. It continues a trend of giving away rights for the pretexts of safety and security, when in actuality your ceding of rights will also deprive of those things. If you yourself aren't deprived of those things in your lifetime, it may be your children, or your grandchildren, but in time we will have allowed power to pool into such a small minority that it will only be a matter of time until a horrible abuse of that power comes about. In the long run, it is better to fight for your rights even if it results in slightly lessened security. And given the information in the last section, it looks like we wouldn't even be risking that.

Thanks for reading.



Plasmatrix forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I fully concede everything that you've just said.

Nice work on developing those arguments, and I apologize that I lack the time at the moment to give an appropriate in-depth debate response/rebuttal to your post.
Debate Round No. 3


Perfectly fine. If you ever want to have a concession debate hit me up.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by MyDinosaurHands 2 years ago
my bad
Posted by Abunai 2 years ago
I'll accept this. lol
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made a prima facie case and Pro conceded, so the debate goes to Con. The main Con argument was that having any NSA surveillance was a slippery slope to a Nazi state. One could just as well argue that the police should be abolished because having any police at all is on the slippery slope to the Gestapo. Everything of significant is on some slippery slope. The NSA is overseen by both Congressional committees and the FISA court, so the slippery slope argument ought to say why proper oversight is impossible. The effectiveness argument is arguable. The referenced review panel was only 3-2 that it was not effective, and NSA present cases where they claimed the surveillance important. Moreover, an argument would have to be made that it would never be worthwhile. A clear win by Con, but Pro didn't put up a fight. Note that Obama is continuing the program, saying only that he will look at it.
Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro Conceded.