NSA - Debate Arguments?


So, having to give a speech on why the NSA is something that shouldn't be here, I need some more arguable points. So far, I feel like my arguments are weak.There are several people that are arguing against me, sometimes with really dumb points. I have been doing on and off research for the past few weeks, and I have these points:

  1. Waste of money - the NSA is the largest spending agency in America.
  2. Hasn't done anything - Obama recently came out and said that the NSA hasn't actually prevented an imminent attack. However, my friend says that this information is classified, and can't be released? Another friend says the UN hasn't done anything either. *facepalm*
  3. Taking away our privacy rights - Data mining, using webcams, software/hardware hacks, etc. Violation of our fourth amendment rights, and should be warranted. Friend says that since you don't own the internet, it's technically not your property, so they can search it all they want.
  4. Creating mass distrust between allies/enemies and citizens - argument against this is that everyone does it, and everyone is aware of this happening, so it's not that big of a deal. Places like China are already spying on us.
  5. Could indeed go from surveillance to censorship - places like Saudi Arabia, Libya, China and Cuba are all censoring their media. The NSA could possibly go from what they're doing right now to what they're doing overseas, right?

What have I missed? I need really strong arguable points that most people will understand.

"Waste of money - the NSA is the largest spending agency in America."

So what? How about instead: The NSA is the largest spending agency in America; this greatly impacts bla bla bla bla and if we spent less on the NSA that money could go towards bla bla bla.

Your friends sound like Idiots. The problem with people saying things like "The NSA could possibly go from what they're doing right now to what they're doing overseas, right?" is that Americans aren't the most peaceful populace. If this happened (in a widespread manner) people would start getting.. rebellious.  

How are those weak arguments? They seem like a pretty big deal to me. 

1: It IS a waste of money. Hit home that the taxes you pay go to this, which is used against you, not for you.

2: Hasn't done anything useful to the public.*

3: Hacking into webcams isn't the internet though, that is your property. Also, there is a double standard here in that if members of the public behave as the NSA do they would be in trouble, probably with the NSA. Double standards are always a sign of immoral behaviour.

4: "Everyone does it so it's fine" is not an argument. You cannot derive an "ought" from an "is", basic philosophy. Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem

5: They take our money and don't tell us how they use it, who knows what they could be doing with it? People like Snowden fortunately.

Both of you bring up great points, thank you very much. I'm bringing my outline in tomorrow for further input.



Do not make it sound like an arguement. You need to let your friends argue against the facts you present them. Control the conversation. It will be very difficult for them to counter hard numbers, such as the NSA's annual budget. Let them argue against you. Let them bring up those dumb points. 

Lets see how strong your research is...


We have allowed companies to collect our information for years. It was never an issue before, why are some of us feeling nervous about the government collecting the same data? Do you really believe that we should allow suspected terrorists to go unmonitored? 

As for privacy, is the internet not unlike a public park where anyone can visit internationally? Why should we let such a place be unpoliced? We need to maintain order, keep the internet secure, and safe. 


why not start by understanding their thoughts on things..


1. What do you picture in your mind when you think of your government Vs another one overseas?

2. Do you actually feel safe when hearing there are 'big brother' organizations?

3. Why do you feel safe?

4. What makes you feel unsafe right now?

((Is it the endless wave of negative stories on the News/Papers/TV/Film ? and how much ground do they really hold))


People who can't handle a change in informational paradigm are usually happy with their existence so to them you are challenging their way of life! So be expectant of closed mindedness or plain abuse.

So the other question may be:

5. Are you happy with the way things are in your life?

Some people might actually like the fact the NSA exist and surely they are entitled to think that aswell?

((but for how long are they allowed to think for themselves in future? But you still have to respect it, remember your the one presenting them with information))



My take is that people have real lives and want to continue with them as they are as so long as it is good. It would not matter for many if they lost another 50% of their basic rights and mobility. Right now we are kettled into tight social ladders of movement in an extremely economically and socially tight control system. There is social mobility and there is freedom to walk but there are so many rules,reg,cost's and full ownership of the land you were born in that there is actually very little you can do to move.

I would argue we have been at a higher standard of basic living but a lower standard of freedom for an extremely long time.

So yea, perhaps those who want to be controlled should sign up for a control program or something and those than don't can work for the controllers ?

just a thought ...


Companies have been collecting our data, but much of it is consensual. We either have allowed them to do so by checking a box, and it was pretty much limited to what kind of things we searched up on the site. Google, for example, uses your search history as a way to market to you, but does not step out of that bound. However, the NSA, until recently, was harvesting data without our consent, and their surveillance covers everything from IM's to international phone calls. We did not check a box saying that it'd be okay to me monitored 24/7.

Next. Terrorists aren't that dumb. They won't be going on Facebook or Gmail to chat up about suicide bombing an office building. They would use things that are incredibly hard for the NSA to tap into, and how the data collection looks right now, would be off the radar. Services such as LavaBit, Tor, or very secure VPNs allow serious communication capabilities. Also, it doesn't seem the NSA is looking very hard. All they've caught are a few so-called hackers, and even President Obama can't name a time where the NSA has stopped an attack.


That's it for this morning, I gotta go to school.

NSA mass-surveilance vs Liberty & Freddom


  • is a Human rights violation (yes online-privacy is a human right)
  • is illegal (yes very important law professionals like judges said so)
  • is useless for Terror-prevention (zero evidence for effectives in over a decade)
  • is costing US companies lots of money (lost trust = lost business)
  • causes political friction (Other nations use this as political leverage vs the US)
  • has a chilling effect on free speech & journalism (spying = censoring)
  • causes psychological stress on populous (more paranoia, anxiety etc...)
  • has no effective measure against abuse (if it can be abused it will be)
  • enables the government to make people transparent while being opaque itself . Knowledge is power. Powerless people = no democracy. (Privacy = means to democracy, not an end in it self)
  • NSA has to weaken IT-infrastructure to facilitate spying = they are making the US more vulnerable against cyber-warfare & cyber-criminals. (they make us less secure)
  • will cause the Internet to fracture (several Nations announced to reroute their Internet)
  • will drive a gazillion regular people to use anonymity tech, providing ample cover for real criminals.

The most damning arguments of all:

Is the fact all that surveillance was introduced in secrecy, without debate or democratic process. Abolishing a societal pillar like privacy without giving the people the chance to decide what society they want to live in is painting a picture of malicious intent & is indicative of oppression.

A conspiracy of secrete services from 5 different countries that remained hidden for so long, would make every James Bond villan jealous. -> They are too powerful to allow them to continue, because Power corrupts.

To be abundantly clear: They're doing it because it gives them more control, your freedom, happiness or security it not even being considered. They are leveraging technology against us because we're letting them.

Liberty is earned, by being vigilant.

relevant reddit thread.

You guys are great, thanks so much.

However, my idiot friends don't seem to care that they're searching through our computers and phones since we're only in high school and they don't seem to give a damn about privacy at the moment. What would be some effective arguments against that? My peers don't care about paying taxes right now, so that argument seems to be out of reach at the moment.

Today I brought up some of your awesome points, and my friend, let's call her Joanna, was dumbfounded by my arguments. So, talking about the double standard @FrogE was talking about, I said, "So, if I went through your text messages, computer and IM, you'd be fine with that?" She replied, "No, but the NSA is protecting us. You can't do anything, but they can." I need new friends. 

@fluffymace, your last and final point is ridiculously devastating. Not only to me, but I think that your point is a key to winning a debate. 


I know how you feel man. My friends refuse to ditch skype for xmpp and don't give a rat's ass about this "security mumbo jumbo" as they so aptly call it. Even some of my teachers are like that. Ignorance is bliss huh. Guess that makes our info the government's raspberry bliss bar.

"So, talking about the double standard @FrogE was talking about, I said, "So, if I went through your text messages, computer and IM, you'd be fine with that?" She replied, "No, but the NSA is protecting us. You can't do anything, but they can." I need new friends."

I hope you find some, she sounds like someone I wouldn't want to associate with.

1) The NSA is NOT the largest spending agency in America. It is under the DOD, but not a solid argument to try to make.

America is supposed to be the land of freedom, why don't they replace the NSA with privacy, property rights, and real, case by case, search warrants specifying where they are looking, what they are looking for and why they are looking!

After all they have the CIA for foreign intelligence operations and the FBI for domestic intelligence work, why do they need the NSA?

Hmm, but I have read that since the numbers are confidential, the NSA is estimated to spend about 10 billion USD per year.

Gordon Adams said that he believed the spending to be well over 20 billions USD per year.