Let me just say, I’m no lawyer and what follows is not legal scholarship.
Of all the reading and listening I have done regarding the spying by our government via electronic data collection and storage, I have found nothing that specifically gets at the issue for me as to why it’s not a good thing. This is mostly because the common response to defending such activity by our government falls into a couple of very broad moral concepts that are part of our cultural upbringing. One is trust in the source of your protection. The other is self acknowledgment as being a morally conscious person.
Trust in the source of your protection is simply an aspect of experiencing parenting that is then extended to relationships external to the parent relationship as we mature. The other, self acknowledgment as being morally conscious is culturally learned.
Thus we get “trust the government with protecting us” such that the data collection is not a problem and “don’t worry if you are not doing anything wrong” as simple answers to why this entire NSA issues is a none issue. These answers have settled nothing.
Lack of trust creates all sorts of problems individually and for society. I’m not going to go there in this post. I’m not going to go there because it seems this nation does not respond anymore to lists of harms and dangers and thus make corrective policy to preserve our sanity. Just consider that we are continuing to pollute ourselves into extinction. Or consider that there has been very little mentioned of the new directive that turns all government employees into untrusted co-workers as a means to stop the government secretes from becoming known. Do we really think that the motivation for turning someone in will always be altruistic and not be for other selfish motives? Here is a tip, racism is not dead, selfishness has become the dominate personality of a large swath of US citizens and greed is simply one expression of selfishness. Oh yeah, we’re the government so why can I not know?
The trust your government issue has been discussed mostly by noting that one’s representative of their own ideology will not be in power at all times. It is the idea that you can not trust your source of protection if it is not of you. This is quite the conundrum for all the ideological identities to resolve such that all can trust their source of protection, in this instance: government. That source being the same for all ideological parties which have been taught to trust this source.
For me the real issue and concern is found in the morally conscious person argument. It is the argument that suggest you have nothing to fear if you are doing nothing wrong.