Technology's limited role in resolving debates over digital surveillance

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Science  15 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6198, pp. 728-730
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251485

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Although it has been known for many years that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has engaged in electronic surveillance, its scope and scale were not widely understood in the United States or abroad before the revelations of the past year based on documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Today, an important public debate is over how policy-makers balance between two goals: identifying evil-doers and thwarting their activities without unduly intruding on the rights and lives of law-abiding people who pose no threat to society.