From PRISM to Prison: How America’s surveillance state can land you in jail

As the PRISM scandal continues to unravel with new pieces of information being leaked, it is clear that there is a surveillance issue in America today. We’re led to believe that the prying into the lives of Americans is all in the name of national security—a noble and just cause. Yet, with inadequate and possibly negligent oversight by the FISA court, according to The Guardian, who is to say the program is under control?
Its defenders say that only metadata is being collected while the implicated Internet companies are denying involvement with sly words and an ounce of consumer trust.
Regardless of what information the government is collecting on its citizens, the idea that one’s privacy can so easily be breeched is haunting. It is warrantless, with no oversight other than a rampant executive branch. PRISM alone can be quite unsettling; there are other avenues the government can use to prosecute anyone they want.

Prosecutors have immense power. Look at the case against Aaron Swartz and the steamrolling prosecutors did. With their ability to go after anyone for almost anything, they can easily ruin a life.
Have you ever connected to unsecured wi-fi? Used a fake name online? Let a friend burn a CD? All of those fall under the broad and often abused Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
One can easily argue a slippery-slope scenario that would make Orwell proud, but with the government’s ability to abuse its power, even one person falling victim is a tragedy. Who is not to say that people who speak out in protest against the governemtn can be more easily silenced? We say, “That cannot happen here!” Yet ever year, with FISA, The PATRIOT Act, PRISM, and possibly countless other programs and acts our freedoms, privacy, and liberties are eroding away.
Amache Japanese Internment Camp, Colorado

What’s Wrong With College Today

The Atlantic is running a series of articles about the value of colleges to today’s students.  Hitting issues like the problems with college rankings and admissions, the value of college itself, and who are the traditional students colleges are aiming for.

Being in college, I have partaken in almost every college-decision-sin The Atlantic says to avoid, from taking more than four years to complete my degree – which is near impossible if you have such a thing called a life, to choosing a college based solely on location instead of academics.

So I went to a local university with so-so credentials and yesterday’s state-of-the-art technology.  So what?  There are larger problems I could have gotten myself into, but I didn’t and now I am nearing the end of my bachelor-degree hunt. But there is more wrong with this than just the university itself.

Academics: The portion of college where you learn things to obtain a piece of paper stating you were sober enough to only sleep through half the classes and smart enough to know when to study (read six chapters fifteen minutes before class starts).

Sitting in class is part of “yesterday’s state-of-the-art technology.”  Journalism Law and Ethics is an evolving beast of, well, laws, procedures, rules, regulations, and complexly written guideline on how to be a journalist lawfully.

Everything discussed in today’s class is either 1. set in Supreme Court stone or 2. has already changed.

Colleges are supposed to be on the cusp of new theories, procedures, information, and knowledge, but they are losing to something many students rely on.  The Internet.

The Internet has the ability to connect millions of people and their ideas with millions of other people and their ideas.

The Atlantic article, “Why You Should Root for College to Go Online” should be an ode to my generation.  Students shouldn’t be sitting in class, but changing the definition of class. 

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring write, “Full-time faculty members must not only assent to the inclusion of online learning in the curriculum.”  Though the faculty seems just has controlled as the students do.  They talk about doing this or that, but it always comes down to the University football seed counters who want to make sure the football field is lavishly green.

The quality of grass does not dictate the quality of education, as some like to believe.

The depths of the Internet have no green gas, or mortared institutions that has a board of regents to please with an outstanding football team, but it does have more information available than a university can even begin to offer.

Why can’t a university be taught online?  Granted there are numerous classes that need hours and hours of hands on experience (nursing, dental, machining, and mechanics) to name just a few.  But history?  Literature?  Creative Writing?  What does a classroom offer that the Internet cannot do better, especially in a time when everyone can be connected to everyone else?

If universities had the materials to offer students the best education, they would not need to have access to the Internet for their students.

If  someone can put an accredited college online, the entire college and learning experience will go universal.  People would be able to learn what they want when they want, all while having access to more information than their professors can even begin to image.  And for professors…you wouldn;t have to listen to just anyone, the top professors in your field will be able to put their lectures online for anyone to view and learn from.

Think about what can happen when people begin to share ideas…what will we be able to think of next?