How Free Is Our Freedom Of The Press?

from TED

In the US, the press has a right to publish secret information the public needs to know, protected by the First Amendment. Government surveillance has made it increasingly more dangerous for whistleblowers, the source of virtually every important story about national security since 9/11, to share information. In this concise, informative talk, Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder and TED Fellow Trevor Timm traces the recent history of government action against individuals who expose crime and injustice and advocates for technology that can help them do it safely and anonymously.

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22 Responses to How Free Is Our Freedom Of The Press?

  1. Andrew Imbesi February 9, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

    Freedom of Speech is a right that every American has passion for. Compared to other countries, I am fortunate to live in an area of the world where my speech is protected. However, over the past few years it seems that I am being forced to monitor my own speech. Why should I be forced to restrict my right to speech? Similarly, why should a journalist’s freedom of speech be restricted? I believe journalists have been getting away with a lot. From the variety of sources I obtain, I come across bold articles daily.
    Now what specifically bothers me about the media are biased papers and unbalanced articles. For example, just recently The Setonian’s front page displayed students protesting against Trump’s immigration order. Now, if I really wanted to, I could have brought out signs saying, “Keep them out” or “build the wall” but that would be disrespectful to the protestors. What I dislike about today’s day and age is that if I wanted to voice my opinions against those protestors, a number of things would have happened. I would have been told to either leave the seal, or even worse, be written up for disturbing their protest. Additionally, I know that my sign would not have made the left-winged Setonian newspaper, so my voice would not have been heard either way.
    Now this has nothing to do with my stance on Trump’s executive order, there are many right-wing news sources that lead to alternate facts and unbalanced articles too and that is the problem. Many articles leak out the opinion section. Criticizing or favoring one way is not news, it is an opinion. I see eye to eye with Trump when it comes to “fake news”, a term that he has been blown out of proportion, but he is still right. We talk about these issues in class and they are issues being ignored from both sides of the spectrum. What are we going to do when we run out of water and overpopulate the Earth? There is a Native American tribe in America requesting to be recognized, the same way Taiwan wants recognition from China and its land area is larger than the state of New Jersey, but no one reports this. Trump may have highlighted the issue of terrorism but there are plenty of more issues other than that.
    The media can be skewed and that is what Trump wants to point out. Then again, America needs skewed media in order for there to be media. This allows different news companies to compete with each other for an audience. However, this really does lead to a downside as well, being that some issues will go unreported.
    I was talking to one of my friends today about freedom. Ironically, he is from India and has only been in America for a couple months. He claims that America is a dream to everyone around the world. Since he was five, he had been dreaming of coming to the states. Everyone wants to make it here because everyone wants the American dream.
    When Americans talk about corruption, it is small talk compared to the corruption that happens around the world. The news stations really do whatever they want, post whatever stories they want. The press should not be arguing for freedom unless a journalist is wronged. Moreover, by wronged, I mean put under investigation because of their interests or an article that person had written. The government has no right to put journalists under surveillance unless something extreme like treason is being committed. Although this is still happening in America, journalists should be reporting the wrongdoings against them and put that on the front page. The media has so much power to spread that news to us and they should if they are passionate about it. If a Free Press organization were found in Russia, Putin would kill all the members in it. When was the last time anyone saw a negative article about Putin coming from Russia? Journalists in other countries have it much harder than our journalists. Consider us Americans lucky, the same way my friend from India considers us.

  2. Jacob Hoelting February 10, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. This is the First Amendments in the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of the United States of America. The founding fathers that wrote this Amendment put it first becasue they knew and truly believed that every individual of a free and democratic republic should have the right to free speech and that the government, no matter how wrong the speech may be, can hinder or demolish the freedom of speech. Every citizen of the United States of America has the right to say what they want without repercussions, involving death or prison. The thing that makes the United States of America so great is the fact that her citizens have every right to say whatever they want no matter what the government thinks, they do not have that in Russia, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, Uzbekistan, even the United Arab Eremites. At the birth of this spectacular country 240 years ago the founding fathers knew that to have a free nation that the citizens needed to have the ability to be protected from the government no matter what they say.

    Today these rights are being tried and tested. The government sees nothing wrong with tapping phones to spy on their citizens or go through their emails, but this is a violation of free speech. As the video this is a response to explained, the government is not giving any kind of freedom of speech to whistle blowers in this post 9/11 world we live in. Just becasue a citizen pointed out that something in the government was a little bit risque their should not be any kind of encroachment on his/her freedom of speech or private property. A whistle blower is essentially press and, guess what, freedom of press is in the Constitution of The United States of America as well. When the mainstream media will not report on the important issues like the Flint Water crisis it is up to the whistle blowers to point out those injustices to get attention and try to get the government to fix the issue. When a whistle blower reports on something wrong in the government they should be given a medal not threatened with jail. That is like a student giving his/her paper to his/her professor, getting corrections back and dropping the class becasue the professor found his/her mistakes. Pointing out mistakes is called “constructive criticism” and it helps the government see what they did wrong and fix it.

    Not only is freedom of speech from citizen to government encroached upon, but from citizen to citizen. The far left liberals of today have made an excellent example of this. The liberals of protests against Trump preach about freedom of speech, but when a Trump supporter tries to give his/her two cents on the issue he/she is immediately marked a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, a fascist. Not only that, but at these “peaceful protests” there have been countless videos/reports of protesters beating up and harming those with opposing viewpoints. THIS IS NOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Freedom of speech works in two directions, just becasue someone has a different opinion than you does not mean you have any right to harm them. Fascism is the practice of intolerance of views or practices. Is that not what the highly liberal, non-peaceful protesters are practicing? Being intolerant of Trump supporters viewpoints? Instead of liberals, Antifa or whatever they are being labeled they should be called hypocrites. The are embodying everything they are saying they are against. In multiple of the fore mentioned videos people are saying “What do expect to happen if you wear a ‘MAGA’ hat to the protest?”. For one, people would expect others to act like the adults they are and be tolerant of others property and respect what they have to say no matter what they are wearing. Saying that is like saying “What did she expect wearing that mini skirt around those guys?”. No one should be discriminated nor should people be taken advantage of because of what they are wearing. Freedom of expression is freedom of speech and both should never be hindered.

  3. Jose Moreno February 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    Our freedom of speech is a big part of what makes us American. It is the very foundation that our country is built on, people desiring of more opportunities and more rights. It is interesting and at the same time somewhat terrifying nowadays to see how bent our definition of freedom of speech is now. Man people today interpret that extremely broadly, applying it to their lives in the most plain terms. “I have freedom of speech so I can curse at you all I want”, would be one of the many examples that could be used to describe just one aspect that is wrong with America’s present interpretation of freedom of speech. A different way of perceiving what is wrong with our freedom of speech today is the way our government applies that to us. How are we supposed to feel about our constant invasion of privacy on a near daily basis? Camera sweeping, microphone hacking, satellite tracking, it is all there to work against us and to make anything we might have said or done of use to those who are supposed to protect our privacy thus also protecting our right to freedom of speech. This all in turn can also be applied directly to freedom of press, which seems to be such a controversial topic nowadays. Nobody likes getting constantly followed and harassed by button pushing questions on a near daily basis (especially famous people) but can we not always argue the side that the press is just doing its job? People cry out and become angry at the fact that the press is so “on top” of everyone and everything all the time but become angry when these people of the press exercise the very right people become angry about all the time. I feel as if our freedom of press is extremely free due to all of the issues we see today between the media and those they choose to discuss. People can become as angry as you want but until they agree to signing off on their freedom of speech and press, then the media will continue doing exactly what they do best, annoying those in the spotlight because it is their American given right. I find it discouraging and hypocritical of our nation to see so many people so often becoming angry towards the media because they, 1) are only doing their job and 2) are expressing their right of freedom of press, maybe they do it more than they should but it is their job. Again, no one enjoys being harassed by the media, and I am sure that the media does not like the large possibility of a backlash from those they interview because even they know that one of their purposes is to push buttons and contradict however, we all need to make an example of the very circumstances we made for ourselves. That being, people need to suck it up, not everyone is going to like each other nor what they do all the time, it speaks that much more about our character as a country if we do not get upset about the regulations we laid out for ourselves.

  4. Michelle Pyatnychuk February 10, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    The significance in this TED talk is that it directly hits on our greatest fears that threaten our nation, whistleblowers. There are those who refer to them as anti-American, traitors that would rather see our own citizens suffer at the cost of releasing their information but there are those who see them as heroes looking to bring justice for those who cannot do it themselves. I find myself to be in the middle of these two views as I feel any release of private government information that could harm any American domestically and internationally should remain untouched but information about our own government’s wrongdoings should definitely be talked about, discussed and debated.

    The whole pretense of freedom of the press was that there would be no censorship within these United States. Censorship is a distinct act that has been exercised throughout our world’s history in all of its parts. I feel that the most dangerous thing that could be done within our world is preventing a people from seeing all sides to a story or a new side for that matter. Information is power. Knowledge is power. This is why this clause was written, to give Americans the right to hear all sides and make decisions on their own, of their own accord, without fear of government or its influence. Sadly, because our government has been hiding so much from its citizens, with the justification of keeping our country safe, there is no way of knowing what they are hiding if not for whistleblowers.

    Snowden on one hand is depicted, especially in the latest Oliver Stone film, as being a hero for the American cause, for freedom of the press. He was so deemed for uncovering the depths of governmental spying and monitoring of all people, in any place and at any time within the United States. What Snowden did that granted him more attention than Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen was that he released a large quantity of secret governmental information that uncovered how the government had been illegally spying on all of its citizens. The array of information that was unlocked was so substantial that it threatened national security and prompted Snowden to flee the country for Russia. I still wonder if there could have been a way for Snowden to utilize freedom of the press by whistleblowing about illegal government surveillance without unveiling so much secret government information. If stealing over a million secret government documents was done to bring greater attention to the issue at hand, it does not seem to me that it really affected much. Of course those who are informed of the what Snowden uncovered such as those working in the government and technology sectors, but to the everyday person, as seen in Snowden’s interview with John Oliver, many still do not see the issue with government surveillance unless they were personally affected by it.

    No matter how hard we fight for whistleblowers to be protected under the law, in order for them to receive the support and attention they are looking for, these whistleblowers need help not only from journalists willing to report about it but also from the entire population who sees the issue, understands it, and wants to change it. Not only is it the responsibility of whistleblowers and the press to protect their rights but it is also everyday people that are needed to make the fight hard to ignore.

    • Olivia Tarnawska February 17, 2017 at 10:33 am #

      Reading Michelle’s comment, I can agree with a lot that she points out. For example when Michelle states, ” I find myself to be in the middle of these two views as I feel any release of private government information that could harm any American domestically and internationally should remain untouched but information about our own government’s wrongdoings should definitely be talked about, discussed and debated”, she presents a good opinion. I do think that we as Americans should without a doubt be able to practice what our Constitution allows us to. However, the question is, “to what extent can freedom of speech be exercised?”, and also “to what extent do we have freedom of speech?”. I do think citizens should have the right to question American authority. The words in the First Amendment that stand out to me are “censorship” and “restraint.” Censorship refers to the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. While restraint refers to a measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits. Thus, the methods of suppressing free speech and the methods of censoring are very different. I believe that our fear prevents us to sometimes express any idea outside of an approved range. That is why I do give Edward Snowden much respect for having the courage to let Americans know the truth behind the government. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many that were run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance. The NSA surveillance is definitely a privacy threat. Americans are being violated without even being aware. Snowden’s attempt to open citizens eyes to the reality of the government was a tremendous and brave step. Though Michelle points out another great opinion when she states, “If stealing over a million secret government documents was done to bring greater attention to the issue at hand, it does not seem to me that it really affected much.” Shes right, people were quick to talk about the occurrence through media and press, but ultimately nothing was done or changed about it. Fear of opposing the government or fighting against these issues is most likely a reason why this issue was heard, talked about, and brushed under the rug. To add, I think Americans have lost their freedom of speech and more importantly their privacy. The government has much control over us, and even taking steps in protecting ourselves from being violated, in the end is not fully guaranteed.

  5. Owen Balseiro February 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    After I had first watched the video, the first thing that came to my mind was the story of Peter Zenger. For those of you who do not know, Peter Zenger was a German immigrant living in New York City in the year 1733. Peter Zenger was a newspaper printer, and in 1733 he was arrested for libel, which in that year boiled down to printing/ writing anything against the government, truth or lies. Now what is important about this case is that not only was Peter Zenger found not guilty as the jury of his jeers ruled that since what he printed was the truth, he could not be faulted for it. This case while small, is one of the first building blocks to the right that we know of today, which is freedom of the press, found under the 1st amendment

    Mainstream media is in a very interesting place right now in the United States. It’s is quite literally walking a tight rope. I would go as far as to say any resemblance on unbiased journalism is dead, as far as mainstream media goes. And that is where the problem lies, when a left leaning news outlet comes out with a story about the right, it is almost immediately labeled fake news, and when a right leaning news outlet comes out with a story about the left, it is labeled racist, sexist and any other buzzword that is in circulation The words may be different but the effect is the same. The media is losing credibility, mostly due to it’s own self inflicted wounds but it is not being helped the many people’s refusal to even read something that is “from the other side” This not only poses a problem for the few journalists who wish to publish a whistleblower story but when it does, the story will just be seen as “fake news.” And this is where i am going to coin the term “Cry Wolf Theory.”

    With the mainstream media these days (both sides), looking at the balance of truth to profit, they seem to be going almost all in to the profit side of it. We see this mostly when it comes to big stories that grab a lot of attention. One example can be seen when CNN covers the disappearance of the Malaysian Flight almost non stop. This is only a small part of the problem but we can see that it grew to be very large during our most recent Presidential Election. With both sides trying to find as much dirt about the others presidential candidate and refusing to even mention anything that hurt their own. We saw something that the I thought would never happen, the final nails in the coffin of the News Industry. Now let’s look at the news today, after all of the 90% or more of Hillary Clinton winning the election, we have come to the point where the News Industry is fighting not only with itself but with the public and with the government. Our president is calling CNN “fake news”, some news sites defend CNN from the accusations while others join in and attack CNN. But here is where we get to the interesting part and where the Cry Wolf Theory comes into play. With the news constantly putting out stories about their political opponents and the integrity of these stories ranging anywhere from fake to semi true. The public is losing faith in the media and the government seems poised to put regulations on it. So I beg the question, what happens when a real whistle blower types story needs to be heard. Something worse than Watergate, something worse than Hillary’s Emails or Trump’s business interests. If we look at the news industry now one half is going to say it is fake and the other is going to be running it for weeks on end. And even if all of the news agencies begin to run the story, I don’t think the public will listen and it will be too late.

  6. Nicholas Thomas February 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    The speaker, Trevor Timm, points out that technology can both infringe upon and protect our first amendment rights. In short, he argues that technology allows the government to secretly pilfer one’s history with concern to text messages, calls, emails, and travel history, but technology is also the solution to protect people. The focus of Timm’s argument is on the backlash “whistle-blower” receive from lack of protection. Since the government is capable to secretly go through email, text, and call history of others there is no reason to pressure reporters and journalists the reveal their sources. Instead the government may follow a “web trail” until the whistle-blower is found. For this reason, Timm suggests that all people use programs for encrypting all action on a web based device.
    As a quick solution I agree with Timm’s argument about encrypting any and all action on web-based devices. Many cell phones already have encrypting programs built in, referring to IPhones, and other phones such as Android have free apps also for encrypting data. For computers and laptops, the user also has access to other programs for encrypting activity on either device. Moreover, because the government is permitted to search through any emails after an extended period of being received, I suggest that people take additional action to encrypt their emails’. All these precautions protect people from searches by the government but they do not promote people to report illicit activity as to protect the next whistle-blower. To report activity to a news source, programs such as Safe Drop allow people to anonymously provide information. Protection of phones, computers, and personal emails is important as a means of privacy. The Privacy Clause of the Constitution allows people the right to privacy and not to have their person, possessions, or property searched without due cause or a warrant.
    I agree with Timm that the unlawful search of emails or communications of people is a First Amendment issue because it deters people from speaking out about injustices specifically with concern to injustices of the government. I also agree that improving protection of the Privacy Clause through encryption is a means to help but I do not believe it to be the end goal. Yes, improving privacy helps with encouraging people to exercise their right of speech however, censorship of certain speech would remain an issue. To address the overall issue of First Amendment rights, I believe the first step is to create a collection of cases such as the one with James Risen the speaker talks about. These cases should then be sent to several media outlets to help make more people aware of the existing issue. Then as a way to protect people such as whistle-blowers people should follow the advice of encrypting personal communications and property. Between educating people and protect privacy, this puts the government in a position to where if whistle-blowers are attacked there will be more of a public discourse to limiting people’s rights to speech. Moreover, this plan is not a step by step plan but a continuous cycle where people are constantly bringing forth information about government activity, improving their privacy, and keeping a public focus on first amendment rights. Through all this the public could put pressure on the government to not punish whistle-blowers.

  7. hannah deppen February 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    At the start of Trevor Timm’s Ted Talk, he mentions how Edward Snowden started a whistle blower trend. Snowden published his expose about how the CIA handed over blueprints of a nuclear bomb to Iran. When he exposed the US Government, it made many people realize how much of the first amendment rights were being taken advantage of. Under the first amendment, the press has every right to publish any secret information that will benefit public interest. This means that the whistle-blower cannot be exposed or legally charged. However, it is hard to exercise this right because it is almost impossible for the media to obtain secret information and publish it without getting the submitter in legal trouble. It is hard to accept that our rights that are promised to us in the Constitution are being compromised and there is nothing we can do about it. Media sources are going to be less likely to publish risky stories because of the fear that they will face a lawsuit. The press cannot do their job because of the governments ability to spy on their citizens.
    It is a sad reality and for years, the Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times reporter, James Risen, faced constant fear of having to go to federal prison. Risen published a whistleblowers story and when the US Government decided that they did not like the story, they went after Risen. It was brave of Risen to stand up for his rights by telling the Government to send him to jail before they took his rights away. It shocks me how Risen was under legal trouble just by publishing the story. He was not even the one who stole the information from the Government. Stories like his are going to discourage other reporters to publish expose pieces. When the Government realized that Risen would not budge, they stole his phone records, emails and other personal receipts. Through those stolen records, the government was able to find out that Jeffrey Sterling was Risen’s source. Not only is the first amendment being violated, personal security rights are being taken advantage of. The government did not have the right to steal emails and other personal information from Risen. However, no one bats an eye when the government invades our privacy and looks into our emails. I believe that there is a fear that is present and that as a whole, US citizens would rather not question the government and let them have our information because we know that we would never beat them. It is so difficult to fight the government that it is easier to let them have access to our personal information. This related to what is going on now with Trump’s immigration ban. US customs are demanding to look through people’s phone who seem like suspicious suspects. People are handing over their phones because it is easier than denying and then being arrested for disorderly conduct! It is a vicious cycle because the government knows that they have a fear tactic over its citizens. Obama said that his administration would protect whistle blowers and the press; however, his administration has prosecuted more than any other administrations combined. Until there is a better method for protecting whistle blowers, the rights that are in the first amendment are never going to be given back to the media.

  8. Zion McMillan February 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights protects our freedom of speech. Specifically, it states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This was drafted in 1789.
    Fast forward to 2017, and our freedoms have never been more in jeopardy. In 2001 following the 9/11 terror attacks, former President George W. Bush signed the PATRIOT Act. Essentially this act gives the federal government free reign in searching anyone or anything they suspect to be a terrorist or related to terrorist acts. If the United States government is acting on behalf of the PATRIOT Act, all of the suspects rights are out of the window. In 2011, President Obama extended this act for four years, making it perfectly legal for the government to place wiretaps, obtain business records, and surveil anyone they please. This of course is all without the suspects knowledge. The National Security Agency also has the ability to remotely turn on any cell phone camera or microphone remotely, even when the phone is off. All of these capabilities the government has without our knowledge makes many people feel unsafe and like their rights are being infringed upon, and quite frankly they are.
    Ironically, Republicans always stand on the platform of promoting a small hands-off government, but are the main supporters of such acts like the PATRIOT Act. And now with Trump in office, civil rights are again at risk. Our new Commander-in-Chief recently tried to ban Muslims from entering the country under the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists. The ACLU was able to overturn this ban. In the meantime, however, Thousands of Muslims were unable to enter the United States, and many of them were citizens or had work visas to be in this country. Growing up in the era of technology and terrorism, there is always an ongoing battle of what is and what is not allowed. Many times the government oversteps because it is reactive and not proactive, and it is the law abiding citizens that have to pay for it.
    This TED talk also pointed out a very important group of people in today’s society- whistle-blowers. Whistle-blowers are people who are typically employees of government or press that expose the government or a government agency when they are committing a wrongful act. Some people view whistle-blowers as selfish individuals that are acting in an “un-American” manner by exposing the government. Others see whistle-blowers as a positive force that keeps the government in line. Regardless of how they are viewed, their role is vital. Infamous whistle-blower Edward Snowden, for example, leaked thousands of classified NSA documents and files to journalists. The leaks exposed unconstitutional and unethical practices on behalf of the NSA, and for a time put the national public in fear of its own government. Many argue that by Snowden doing this, he is just creating chaos and dividing the country, Other people will argue that an act like this keeps the public informed and keeps the government in check, exposing them for their underhanded practices,
    We live in a time where as long as technology is advancing, the government will always be pushing to stay three steps ahead, even if that means violating its citizen’s rights. At the same time, it is on the people to elect who will best represent them, because there are candidates that oppose such encroachments on privacy.

  9. Peter DeSantis February 10, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    The technology advancements that have been made over the past twenty-five years or so have given rise to questions regarding the federal government of the United States of America and its seemingly intrusive actions over cyberspace. Now that the majority of Americans use current technologies such as texting, the Internet, email, and social media sites, people want to know if their government is actually accessing this information without their consent to spy on citizens. It is a question that many people want answered, myself included. The government will not answer and the media does not know for sure. The only ones that the American public can hope to rely on are whistleblowers who used to work for the government in agencies like the NSA, CIA, or Homeland Security such as Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling as mentioned by Trevor Timm in his TED Talk “How Free is Our Freedom of the Press?”

    Since top-secret government information has been released to the public in recent whistleblower incidents, the idea that the government spies on Americans by following their digital footprint has become accepted as common fact. Some individuals are very concerned and outraged while others sit back without a care with the notion that they have nothing to hide anyway. Some do their best to encrypt all digital information whereas others have no privacy measures in place and let cookies run wild. As much as I do not like the idea of the government reading all of my texts and emails, I understand that it is currently legal so it is not my biggest concern. On the other hand, there is an issue with whistleblowers and the way that the government treats them.

    Timm discusses a current potential constitutional issue surrounding the United State government and the First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press. He underscores this problem by telling about James Risen who wrote a book explaining how the government wiretaps private phone calls thanks to the clandestine information from an ex-government source. One chapter in particular claimed that the CIA deliberately gave Iran a guideline for building a nuclear weapon. Timm describes how the government was not happy about this, so they traced Risen’s digital footprint in order to determine who his source was. They identified the source to be Jeffrey Sterling who was convicted of violating the Espionage Act. Is it legal for the U.S. government to access our personal digital information and communications? Right now, it is because it is not technically our property. Also, we sign contracts with telecommunications providers like Verizon, social media sites like Facebook, and cell phone makers like Apple. These contracts say that we agree to allow our information to be sold and shared to the government and viewed by the company of the service we are using. Technically the government is not doing anything wrong.

    Another debated question is if this act of viewing our online activity infringes on the Freedom of the Press. Obviously, the First Amendment gives the media the right publish any sort of information to the public whether it be top-secret or not. In order to do this, the press has to have access to the information through people like whistleblowers, but the government does everything in their power to incriminate them. The press wants the information. But do they want to put whistleblowers at risk? Do whistleblowers themselves want to take the risk anymore after the examples that have already been set? The public has the right to be kept accurately informed, and the press has the right to obtain and provide that information. Contrarily, I understand how the government can see whistleblowers as traders to the United States. Some of the secrets leaked by whistleblowers can threaten our national security. If the enemy knows that the U.S. is tracking them over the Internet, it gives them the opportunity to change their tactics, making it harder for our military to keep an eye on them and protect citizens from an attack. It is not necessarily virtuous to throw your government under the bus, but if your government is overstepping its boundaries then one has a right to do this. I see whistleblowers who have told Americans the truth about what their government is doing, as patriotic heroes, not Benedict Arnolds. The ideal whistleblower would release information relevant to the general welfare while simultaneously not giving up any military secrets that protect the country.

  10. Adara Gonzalez February 10, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    In the Ted Talk, Trevor Timm educated the public of a journalist James Risen and the lengths he went through in order to let the American people know what happens behind the close doors of the U.S. government. From revealing that the government has been tapping in and listening to our phone conversations, as if that was relevant or new information to the public, but also that a top secret of the United States handing over to Iran blueprints of a nuclear bomb. However, being just a journalist Risen had to have gotten this secret information by someone in the know of it all, someone who is voice had to be heard for the safety of not just American citizens. Risen knew who this person was, and had to have some form of communication in order for the transaction of information to properly be taken place. For this Risen was prosecuted and forced to testify against his source.
    Now, it is understandable as to why the United States government would do anything and everything that they are able to do in order to find out who was the whistleblower. They obviously pose as a threat to national security. Not saying that the blueprint information should have stayed behind the closed doors of the U.S. government, and that it was not valuable information to be shared with the public. It becomes a matter of finding out who it is, because maybe the next time the person decides to release information to the press, it may not be in favor of releasing it for the benefit of American citizens, but may decide to let foreign governments know or even those countries we may not be quite friendly with. The press however, and Risen, decide to do the right thing and honor and protect their whistleblowers and chose to even go to prison in order to protect the right of the freedom of speech.
    In the Ted Talk, Timm hints but does not quite fully say that our right of the freedom of speech is in danger due to our technological advancements. Risen was being prosecuted in order to testify against his whistleblower, but with some time that was no longer necessary. The government decided to do the research themselves, without letting Risen know that they were going through all of his personal information in order to achieve the name of the whistleblower themselves since Risen would not comply. The U.S. government collected information deriving from all kinds of different sources from phone, email, banking transactions and even travel records! This puts into question where can we draw the line for the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press and be able to protect it from the quickly developing advancements of technology. We know that we must protect these rights for they are the gateway of news and sources that is always needed, especially under this new administration, which is persistent on feeding the public lies. It is now the time to bring this situation into the spotlight and find an answer is our national security more important than our freedom of press and speech. I hope we find one soon.

  11. Nicolas F Carchio February 10, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

    Since the birth of the United States and the first drafts of the Constitution, citizens wanted to know if their government would protect them. The Antifederalists argued that the Constitution was incomplete, as it had not specifically stated or outlined the individual rights of each citizen. This caused a catalyst for change, and soon the Bill of Rights was added, placing 10 amendments to the Constitution that directly affirms the rights of citizens. Among these is the first amendment, which contains the freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion and petition to the government to address grievances. There have been many cases regarding these rights whether the government has attempted to overstep its power or if the people had gone beyond their protected rights. In the modern day, the idea of the freedom of press has been tested countless times. The press is the title for all the news stations as a whole throughout the country, who have the job of reporting upon news to inform their citizens, ensure their safety and offer a voice to present concerns. The different news organizations are able to shed light on certain issues that they choose because of their large following of people, which often leads to reform and change through the government. The freedom of an unregulated, private press is integral for a functioning democratic republic in order to ensure that all views are heard and protected.

    The relationship between the government and the press has had many highs and lows as the press is known to support the government for doing good deeds, but is also very critical of the decisions made by those in power. These criticisms have creates tension between the two entities. The freedom of press is protected by the Constitution, and because of this, any government attempt to infringe upon this would be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s job is to uphold the Constitution and all its protections. Due to their controversial position, they face harsh criticism from the other government branches and agencies because they rule on the law, which is not always in the interests of the government. The press has been tested in court many times, and their freedom of speech has been protected under the law. If the press is infringed upon, then there can be no true outlet of news that is untainted by the government. Those who report to the press are protected with anonymity so that the government will not question them. With the protections of the constitution, the press is able to express the concerns of the citizens without the restrictions of the government, which allows for a free flowing dialogue and a supportive yet critical society.

    The new presidential administration, headed by President Donald J. Trump, has had a predominately-harsh relationship with the media. The current administration received little support from the majority of the news networks and more frequently had been vehemently criticized throughout the entire campaign process. This treatment caused tension between the two entities, which arose not only from the constant defamation of the Trump Administration’s credibility but also by the rash and unethical actions and words from Trump and his fellow administrators. Trump has repeatedly questioned the credibility of the news sources. He has said many offensive things that the media has reported on, but also has suffered due to untrue stories created over social media and other platforms. This fragile relationship demonstrates a major concern for the American people, who hope for a healthy dialogue and critique of both the president’s motives as well as the media’s. However, in the current state, there is no clear end to these hostilities in sight. The situation is only escalating as the Trump administration continues to act in unprecedented ways, giving ammunition to the media and causing many to question their government’s true motives. In the current state, there is only hope for a brighter future, with the political turmoil laid to rest.

  12. Jevon Mitchell February 10, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

    “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from its consequences.” Sadly, this quote from the New York Times writer Yousef Munayyer contains a truth that must be addressed. Freedom of speech is one of the first 10 amendments of the constitution known as the Bill of Rights which provides the basic rights for any American citizen. Any violation of these rights would be deemed unconstitutional but it seems as though this is not the case. In the TED talk speaker Trevor Timm asks: How free is our freedom of press?
    Timm also provides a great example of these rights not being respected. James Risen, a New York Times reporter wrote a book in which he disclosed sensitive information. Not only did he write that the NSA was unlawfully wiretapping communications but he also revealed that the United States government had made a deal with Iran in which they simply turned over the blueprints for possibly disastrous nuclear technology. The CIA quickly took notice and targeted Risen, and for about seven years he endured a legal battle with the United States government. He was threatened with prosecution when he refused to reveal and testify against his apparent source for this information. It is unsettling to hear that this has become a pattern where the United States targets and prosecutes whistle blowers.
    In fact, this habit of infringing on basic rights has become such a problem that sites such as the Washington Post have boxes where you can secretly submit a story or details about an event that will then be encrypted and out of reach of government speculation. This is not the first time that I have heard of such a thing with papers and the news. There are certain methods of whistle blowing that allow you to use Tor browsing to make your submission of information as anonymous as possible. This is one of many precautionary measures to protect your identity so that the government is not able to trace the submission back to you in any way. This method is often used for refugees or foreign journalist under the rule of strict leaders to get inside information to American Journalist because as mentioned by Andrew in the comment above me journalist in other countries have it much harder than ours.
    The topic of freedom of speech and its relationship with national security immediately reminds me of Eric Snowden. He is another case of an American citizen whose rights were infringed upon and was targeted by the United States government for revealing sensitive information. Snowden basically revealed the same type of information as Risen, suggesting that the NSA is secretly spying on the communications of the citizens that it is meant to protect and in a world of decreasing privacy this is not a far-fetched idea.
    It seems as though the citizens right to freedom of speech is null and void when the safety of the United States is at risk. Leaking confidential information could reveal our secrets and leave our nation vulnerable, which could be seen as an act of terror, and when thought about from this perspective it makes sense to punish any possible act of treason that that would lead to us being placed in danger.

  13. Christian Cox February 10, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    How Free Is Our Freedom Of The Press?
    The First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Free press is a staple in the original idealism of America. Free press was intended to protect the little guy from the powerful central government. This ideal is being threatened by those in the government who feel the reputation of the government untainted. The introduction of the internet gave whistleblowers more access to information, but also lost all anonymity. Free press is no longer free when the government no exactly who knows specific information. The government has the ability to access any information they desire. Society will suffer if there is not a mechanism that protects whistleblowers. Many argue that the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 does just that, however, the act pertains to federal employees that are reporting misconduct within the government. Regular citizens who seek to report misconduct are seen as a threat to national security and are treated as such. Timm identifies that there is a pattern of spying on journalists and prosecuting those who whistleblow. The federal government is far stronger than any of our founding fathers could have conceived. All information concerning diplomacy, intelligence, or defense are all classified information. There is more classified information than there is open-source information, according to Barton Gellman a reporter for The Washington Post. The U.S. government no longer needs to question the defendant, because they know everything that the whistleblower does and how they attained that information. Timm mentions that this is the exact process that was used to convict Jeffery Sterling.
    The lack of free press is not the only problem in our media today. Lack of free press is an indicator of corruption. The root of this problem is that the executive branch cannot control bureaucracy that is now controlled by unions. These employees write and interpret administrative rules and cannot be fired, dismissed, or disciplined. Clearly this another opportunity for corruption. Given Trump’s track record so far, I do not see him being able to make any significant changes nor do I want Trump to make lasting impressions on the government. Trump has been adamant about his dislike and distrust for the judicial branch, while this is merely self-serving, he is partially correct. Our judicial branch is corrupt; The U.S. is known for sending innocent people to jail. Trump also mentioned that the recent election was rigged during his campaign. It seems he was partially correct given that he in fact won without the popular vote. There are many solutions to the U.S. election system that are in no way new. Among these solutions the only one I could that I feel has a chance of implementation is the national bonus program, where whichever candidate receives the popular vote earns extra electoral votes. Our elections are not likely to change given our political parties. Our elections and political system operate like sports rivalries. There are only two legitimate options, team republican or team democrat. All these teams are concerned with is beating the other guys. Our drawn-out elections are part of the problem; no other country uses the amount of time that the U.S. does for elections. One could argue this is due to American exceptionalism and citizens need sufficient time to make the best rational choice, but all it really accomplishes is voters become desensitized to the news. News shows bark back and forth for over a year and expect every American to have an informed opinion on every topic. Albeit this is not much to ask for, however, the concept of studying for over a year for a single question test seems a little ridiculous. So what makes these two different? Obviously a president has more significance than any test, but to the individual one vote is seemingly meaningless. Our low voter turnout is indicative of public opinion on the topic of the importance of voting. Given our knack for corruption why would the government not limit free press, because they already know the public will not be able to stop them? Even if there was a whistleblower informing the public not only would the government stop them, but also the political party that is hurt by the release of the information. How free is our freedom of the press? To answer Timm’s question: Not at all and why would it be.

  14. Filip Bizek February 10, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

    Our founding fathers remarkably foretold what the future might hold and gave American citizens a legal source of protection against the infringement on freedom of speech or of the press. In 1789, they created a living document called Constitution of United States of America. A vital part of the constitution is the first amendment which sates,

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    This is the backbone for our journalists to do a solid job and hold the government accountable for its actions. However, it is getting tougher for people in the “News” industry to do what they supposed to do when the politicians are doing everything in their power to prohibit the leaks from entering the circulation.

    I fully understand the potential negative impact of some information being released to the public eyes. It is undoubtedly true that not everything is meant for us to see. Even the president of United States is not always briefed on all top-secret actions done by different agencies. After all, one of the key priorities of every government is to keep its subjects safe from the foreign threats imposed by the hostile nations. Of course, it would not be possible if all the sensitive information became public. This would directly cause a large hole in our country’s strategy to battle with national security. Nonetheless, in today’s world, the government is stepping outside its boundaries and subtlety creates breaches in our privacy.

    Edward Snowden’s story is perhaps the most notable example of a situation where the freedom of speech and the right of the press intercrossed with national security. For some he is a hero while others depict him as a traitor. He was a C.I.A employee who exercised his freedom of speech by exposing government’s spying and monitoring of American Citizens. On the first glance, he most certainly seems like a hero. Edward knew the consequences of his actions and still chose to battle a beast much more influential than him. On the other hand, he unrightfully made top-secret information public for everyone to see, which could potentially benefit the hostile nations. In my opinion, he ultimately made the right choice. If not for him, we would have never found out about governmental institutions putting limitations on our right to privacy. Sometimes it is necessary to break the law in order to protect another.

    Gary Webb is another very important example where the government tried to silence attempts of delivering a damaging message to the public. He was an American investigative journalist who found a correlation between C.I.A and drugs polluting the streets of our country. According to his testimony, governmental agents who successfully managed to discredit his credibility threatened him on numerous occasions. In 2004, he was found dead in his apartment. Gary’s death was linked to a suicide attempt. I want to make it clear that I am not blaming his death on C.I.A, however, his constitutional rights should have never been infringed by the government. We live in scary times where our government is growing bigger while our rights to privacy and free speech grow smaller. Therefore, it is pivotal for us not take the constitutional rights for granted and fight every time when they are threatened.

  15. Jiaqi Ma February 10, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

    First of all, this video reminded me of public security. Trevor Timm mentioned that governments worldwide are developing new spying techniques in replacement of old technology. I used to enjoy watching Chinese criminal detection types of programs. I enjoyed when the police caught the murderers and robbers by tracking their email and bank record. Because every criminal were spies, I felt safe and proud of our social surveillance. Since I have come to America, I have been thinking about surveillance. Is that correct that the Chinese police have easy access to the private information of one person? If that is okay for criminals, I thought that was okay. However, Trevor Timm gave me an idea that the government could easily get personal information. Is that correct? Should we have our privacy? As the same time, I realized that this is a horrible thing for journalists. In the video, he mentioned that James Risen was put in jail because he exposed that the NSA illegally spied on American phone calls. I am shocked, but at the same time I am curious about the distinguishing factor between spies and journalists. The proper definition of spy: a person who obtains information in a certain manner. This makes it difficult to separate spies and journalists. Although the first amendment states that the press has the right to publish secret information, with respect to public interest, he also believes that journalists have the right to collect the important information. This promises that this national secret will not be used by another threatening nation. More importantly, we live in a peaceful nation, but if there is a war, then, there must be many spies to pretend that there are journalists to gain the national secret. Is that a problem? Although it is not justified for the government to spy on its nation, I just want to make it clear that everything has two sides. Although we know they should not do that, we are also protected by this vision. I also suspect that he mentioned a tool called “Secure Drop”. I watched a video that said Apple Company can participate in anti-monitoring when you and another person are sharing a phone call. However, I still remember very clearly that people working for the governments are not allowed to use Apple phones because Apple’s Company can get their private information easily. Therefore, I suspect that this app can not protect our information, as we thought that it had. Instead, it sells our information to third parties (not the government). The speaker also said that the U.S. handed over blueprints of a nuclear bomb to Iran. Such acts are strongly condemned. We know the American government intervenes in the Middle East; this result is due to journalists. I believe every policy have two sides. We need to look at the problem dialectically, rather than, simply blaming one party.
    In a different sense, freedom of press can be hard to measure considering many things that are written by newspaper articles are strategically used for the company’s gain. There are many newspaper, or even magazine, companies that have investors influence what they write. There are many ways that one can control what is being said in the media, without any government intervention. Some places do not even have a urge to post political articles, not because they are afraid of government sanction, but instead they are more worried about their investors. In addition, many companies also worry about their client’s opinions. Many things are posted in order to increase ratings or sales, but not necessary to make a change in the political realm.

  16. Ryan Appello February 10, 2017 at 7:31 pm #

    One of the core principles associated with the United States of America is the citizen’s role in making sure the government stays in check and does not grow too powerful. This is what our country was founded on. All of the government’s authority comes from the people. And if the government does overreach its powers, it’s the citizen’s job to refuse and expose the activities. This is why the freedom of the press is so essential to protecting our nation. It is the job of the journalists, writers, and whistleblowers to report on what the government is doing in order to create a movement to stop it. In the video, Mr. Timm talks about how the US government took James Risen’s personal information when conducting an investigation related to his whistleblowing. The government doing this is in direct violation of a citizen’s right to privacy. It goes against 4th amendment rights, and 1st amendment rights. The freedom of the press was under siege when they attempted to make Mr. Risen give up one of his sources. One of the main reasons this freedom exists is so government information can be published and the journalists can be protected.

    As new technology becomes available, the government can more easily access private information, just as they did with Mr. Risen. The fact that the government is engaged in these types of activities is a huge debate. It is a direct violation of citizens’ rights, however, supporters of it claim it is for the greater good of the security of the country. I believe that every citizen has an individual right to freedom, so once the government takes that away, they must be held accountable. How ca journalists be safely protected by the 1st amendment if the government can trace them? They have a right to remain anonymous and free from the governments reach.

    Because of what happened with Mr. Risen, journalists have begun to use technologies like more advanced encryption to protect their information. This is a great way to combat the governments grasp on their private content. Seeing this happen is an important reminder of how important securing your information is. The fact that journalists must do this is worrying, since their freedoms are being abused, however, this is reality, and until the government is held accountable for their illegal actions, this is what they must do to remain safe.

    Even if you aren’t a journalist, it is important to always secure your data and information. If the government could get into someone’s private info, it seems likely a thief could get into someone’s credit card information relatively easily. If you are going to use technology in your everyday life, you must make sure you are safe. This means using encryption on things like your computer or cell phone, using a secure internet, and doing so much more. In an increasingly digital word, keeping your privacy safe is becoming more and more of an issue. The government is in direct violation of the Constitution and it is the people’s jobs to make sure they are held responsible for it. If not, they will continue to do it unchecked, and the freedoms guaranteed to citizens by the Constitution will be no more.

  17. Erin Carunchio February 10, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

    According to the first amendment, it states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. This is where the saying “freedom of speech” comes from. The TED talks about whistle blowers. They are people usually hired violated by the government and somewhat violate our freedom of speech. We are America, the land of the free. People come to America to be free. However, we have seen somethings in the last 2 decades that has been jeopardizing our freedom and will continue to do so.
    One event that happened in the past decade that will never be forgotten in this country is 9/11 terror attacks. 9/11 affected our country greatly and a lot of Americans questioned their freedom. Following the attacks, our national security improved. It had too. President George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT act. The PATROIT act allows the federal government to search anything that seems like it could be involved in an act of terrorism. After this bill was signed, it was like some of our freedom was taken away from us. The federal government was able to access records, phones, and computers, anything they wanted. They also can search anything without warning. In 2011, President Obama resigned the act to renew it. This started to make Americans question our freedom and feel unsafe. They were feeling unsafe because of their own federal government. Even though the government thinks they think is a good act, it is violating the rights of American citizens. Whistle blowers violate the rights of Americans. Some people do consider the government whistle blowers. Some other people believe that we should not expose the government like that. What every your view is, whistle blowing is not right. However, it happens and is happening. A known whistle blower is Coleen Rowley. She exposed the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures. In 2002, she was named the TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year”.
    With President Trump now being in office, terrorism is a constant talk. With the growth and technology, the worry of terrorism is just going to grow. I understand the government is trying to protect, but they are violating citizen’s rights. With being a citizen, that’s scary. We feel like we are being watched and monitored all the time. Slowly our freedom is being taken away from us. Our freedom of speech and freedom of thought/opinion is being monitored. That is not freedom. I hope that one day we get our “freedom” back because that is what American is known for. Freedom.

  18. Bryan Ferro February 10, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    One of our defining definitions of being American is our “freedom.” As this era of technology advances, it becomes a bigger part of our lives than it already is. New technology breeds more innovations, higher quality, stronger machinery, and more common capabilities for everyday citizens. One thing not seen by many is the application of these new technologies for the government. As technology efficiency and use increases, the more we are susceptible of being under government surveillance. How easy would it be to track someone’s everyday movements and life through their phones? In the future, would these phones become microchips or perhaps an extension to one’s own body? Would the government be able to track your thoughts and actions? This by definition is not freedom and instead unconstitutional surveillance. We must call into attention these situations and breech of freedom, before it gets out of hand in the near future.
    In this “TED talk” by Trevor Timm, he concentrates on describing the dangers in the invasion of privacy the U.S. government inflicts on whistle blowers who try to release unconstitutional secrets the U.S. government is hiding. The exposure of these injustices brings these voices of wrong to justice by the First Amendment, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” The surveillance of emails and phone calls or any source of communication from someone who is trying to do justice to the world, is infringing on the First Amendment.
    Pulitzer Prize winner and a New York Times reporter, James Risen went under legal difficulty with the Federal government. His story based off a whistleblower’s intelligence revealed the C.I.A. was giving Iran blueprints for nuclear bombs. Risen was under threat of going to federal prison, if he did not reveal who the whistle blower was. Instead, he stood his ground and stated that he would go to jail instead of revealing the whistle blower. Without Risen’s consent, the C.I.A tapped into many of Risen’s phone records, bank statements, and emails. This ultimately led to conviction of the whistle blower through the means of unconstitutional surveillance. Therefore, it is only obvious that in order to fight the suppression the government holds upon potential whistle blowers and justice seekers one must find a method to protect these whistle blowers.
    As stated before as technology advances so does the simplification of surveillance. What should be done is use the advancement in technology to better implement encrypted applications where those who wish to express unlawful information to the press can do so without consequence. Trevor Timm mentioned this application and tool as Secure Drop. This would ultimately give the press back its right to freedom of press and speech, making it easier to release secret information to the public. To which the public has every right to know. Our constitutional rights should be protected as it provides us freedom of speech and press. The issue of national security is important but should never infringe upon the freedoms of its people.

  19. Derek Luckman February 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    Journalists are some of the most important people to get our fellow citizens the news. Some risk there life and some go into danger willingly just to get up close to the truth of things. Not many people know behind scenes of what goes on with reporting the truth and the government trying to make that news be a need to know basis. For years the government has kept secrets from the public and hid things that were not deemed public interest. There have been many reporters who now have been prosecuted for sharing things that the government does not want in the public eye.
    Whistle blower is a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity. With a simple Google search information can be seen of journalists right now trying to share information about popular topics such as the Veterans Administration department and its maltreatment of veterans. Another recent regulation of President Trump was to remove complaint websites (whistleblower) links that are linked to major company pages such as Wells Fargo. According to NyDailyNews , some of the banks employees filed whistleblower complaints with the Labor Departments Occupational Safety and Health Administration, saying they had been fired for reporting the gaming by Wells Fargo. This is clear that the government has influence that only benefits itself and not the actual citizens and former employees that have been harmed by this company’s action. By removing the complaint section of a business page, it limits the freedom of speech that is written in our constitution. Not only is this misleading but many people may get hurt by these actions of silencing people.
    The founder of TED, Trevor Timm, has made in my opinion a very valid argument in this article questioning how free our freedom of the press is and giving information of the repercussions that come with sharing that information. He referenced the NSA and its corruption and disloyalty to its own American people by wire tapping phone calls. With how advanced our technology is it brings into question if the NSA can truly see everything that we do. Not just wire taps and text messages or credit card hacks, what about video calls and each laptop that has a camera, can they see what we are doing? Cyber security has always been a big topic but when the government is unstoppable and is continuously punishing whistle blowers for giving true information to the public, who is going to stop the government of its own corruption?
    Trevor also mentioned how journalists and whistle blowers are fighting back. There are organizations that try to protect the information that whistle blowers are trying to submit such as the one Trevor works for, Freedom of the Press Foundation. There are even websites integrated into the news outlets like the one mentioned for the Washington Post. You can upload a document or send information and it will be encrypted so that the government can no longer spy or secretly demand the information. All in all I believe that our freedom of press and freedom of speech are compromised and is not truly free.

  20. Austin O'reilly February 10, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

    The speaker in this Ted talk speaks about how the America’s first amendment is no longer honored by the US government. The free America that immigrants dream of is a book of lies according to Trevor Timm. He speaks about how the Press has a right to publish what ever they want, but this right is no longer practiced because of the government’s intervention. When writers hear stories or news from whistleblowers, they publish the information to inform the rest of the country on this news. The NSA is now preventing this from happening by wiretapping phones and hacking into people’s emails in order to prevent any vital information from leaking out to the public. Timm uses the example of James Risen, who is a famous reporter for New York Times. Risen is well known for his book that exposed the NSA of their wiretapping. In one chapter Risen exposes the CIA for giving blueprints of a nuclear bomb to Iran, which was information he gained from a whistleblower. When Risen refused to testify against his source the government secretly gathered all of his past credit card, phone and travel records, leading them to the source. This was a complete invasion of privacy and a huge conflict of Risen’s freedom of speech. Not only did the government go against the first amendment, but they did this to punish someone else’s freedom of speech as well.
    While outside of America everyone thinks the freedom of speech is such a glorious thing, it is anything but that. While Americans can technically say whatever they want, they do so with many consequences. In today’s culture people’s spoken opinions are now seen as insults, threats, or direct attacks, instead of simple opinions. A person with said opinion can no longer freely speak their mind without being considered racist, sexist feminist etc. For example, people are having there phone probed in airports right now to see if they have said anything about president donald j trump. This has no impact on the security of the airport nor says anything about the person, but is still something that is being probed for. This is something that should not be allowed nor should happen. Everyone is entitled to say whatever they want about the president and it should have no affect on their rights as a human being. It should be unconstitutional for people to even have their phones searched in order to see what they think about a person or a specific subject matter.

    Todays society is very backwards, and wrong. There really is not freedom of speech anymore, everyone is subject to judgement on what they say to make sure it is in coordination with the norms of society. This should not be the case because no where in the constitution does it say you cannot say certain things. If no one is directly being harmed by what you are saying, you should be able to say it with no repercussions. This is not something you must earn, you are given this right by being an american citizen. This is why this country is so great and is envied by so many across the globe. I can openly bash the president of the united states, and will not get my head chopped off. America is the amazing country it is because of the rights given to the people under the constitution.

  21. Tianqi Xu October 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

    Now is an Internet age, the vast majority of information can be learned from the Internet. Of course, this makes the Internet a more dangerous place. Even if not hackers, the general people can get a lot of important information. This article focuses on how the listening system allows the government to focus on people’s every move. The speaker gives a good example of James Risen. The writer wrote a book that was unfavorable to the US government, and he wrote a book about how the US government listened to public calls. I think this one is published out of the people’s power is a kind of disregard. In the twenty-first century, do people still have no right to freedom?
    It is very clear that in first amendment, it says that people have freedom of speech. Even it is written in the law; the government still wants to watch the people. Perhaps the government just wants to monitor the way through the way to ensure the safety of the people, because after the September 11 incident the government must always be awakened. But the truth is that people have absolute power to protect their privacy and their right to freedom of speech. In a sense, the government violated the rights of the people and even committed an offense. This article points out that the government can find all the phone records, property reports and all the itinerary. This is not just the problem of eavesdropping, and more importantly, the government can grasp all the people every move. This is a very terrible fact.
    After the speaker said this terrible fact, he said a more brutal reality. The government says it can protect all informants, but the fact is not the case. The government caught a lot of tellers because these people violated the interests of the government. For now, the government not only monitors everyone’s every move, they can not promise their own words. How can such a government be convinced by the people? Trust is the most basic thing between people, but even managers cannot do, and how can the normal people do it?
    This video did give me a lot of shock, because I think my life seems to be still very safe, but did not want to exist in such a big hidden dangers. Living in such a society without security is a very unpleasant thing.

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