By DECLAN PETERSON, age 11

According to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, appointed by the president, the surveillance is illegal. PHOTO: Susan Melkisethian
According to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, appointed by President Obama, the surveillance is illegal. PHOTO: Susan Melkisethian

After the Sept. 11 attacks, domestic spying in the United States increased dramatically. The National Security Agency (NSA) started a domestic spying program called the President’s Surveillance Program. The NSA still considers the program classified, but information has been leaked by concerned government officials. The New York Times broke the story of the surveillance program in 2005, and President George W. Bush admitted that the surveillance program spied on Americans believed to be communicating with people connected with terrorist suspects.

In 2007, Microsoft became the first major technology company to cooperate with the NSA’s Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization and Management (PRISM) program, giving them the ability to collect data on internet activity. Over the next few years, Yahoo, Google and social networking companies were pulled into the program, which wasn’t revealed to the public until years later.

In 2013, the Guardian reported that the NSA had been collecting millions of Verizon customers’ call data. According to an investigation by USA Today, companies in the United States, including AT&T, MCI and Sprint, handed over the call-detail records of their customers, which included personal information.

In a 2014 interview, former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said, “[the U.S. government is] monitoring everybody’s communications instead of suspects’ communications.”

President Obama supports the NSA’s efforts and claims that 50 terrorist threats have been detected because of the program. However, the only success that the NSA had was discovering that a cab driver sent $8,500 to a terrorist organization in Somalia. According to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, appointed by the president, the surveillance is illegal.

Surveillance: watching someone closely, especially if the person is suspected of being a criminal