With all the hubbub from the announcement that the government can snoop on pretty much anything they like - first Verizon calls, then later almost anything on the internet via a program named Prism (save Twitter, because that's so important), it leaves me wondering why there is such an issue.
The issue is that there was no transparency in the program. It was announced that the current administration took steps to figure out who leaked the documents - and later that person could get years in prison. But why is this? They shouldn't get prison time. They should get a parade.
The government should not be hiding such information from their citizens, they should be pronouncing that they can achieve such goals. It is not only a technical marvel, it is important that everyone know that such things are actually possible. The Machine - as shown in Enemy of the State, Eagle Eye and Person of Interest - seems like a pipe dream, but it doesn't seem like such a stretch any longer.
What seems amazing is that such a plan has been achieved for only $20 million. That's a bargain for our government. Now it is perhaps true that they can only get the information by requesting specific information, rather than assembling it, as we might see in the somewhat science fiction genres above, but is that really that far-fetched to imagine that it's too far in the future, that a Minority Report (perhaps without the psychics, but with actual algorithms behind the information) is behind the data?
It doesn't seem like much of a stretch, and that is why the government should be straight with the populace and tell us what they can do. If nothing else, it would keep more people on the right path. If you know your parents know what you are up to, it's much more likely that you'll do the right thing. Instead, knowing that the government themselves are deceitful? Not a good choice here.