The passage in Little Brother that caught my attention was the debate about halfway through concerning the moral implications of breaching citizens’ privacy in the name of security. Marcus ends the debate by quoting from the Declaration of Independence, that it is “the right of the people to alter or abolish” any government that is no longer “deriving just power from the consent of the governed” (Doctorow 180). This novel was published in 2008, before the NSA and Edward Snowden scandal, and in some aspects of the story this is very obvious. The NSA is skimmed over the few times it is mentioned, and it seems to be an impenetrable fortress of hidden information – not so today, after their secrets were published for the world to see.
Though it was to a far lesser extent than in the novel, when the news broke that the NSA had been collecting phone data from millions of Americans people were outraged. Though some privacy has to be given up in order to ameliorate security, such a blatant breach of privacy was something the public was incredibly incensed about. To be American citizens and have the security afforded by such government organizations as the NSA, CIA, and FBI is one thing, but to be secretly spied on by one’s own government was another matter entirely.
Due to the public’s outrage, the NSA was forced to start changing some of its policies, which is a living example of the people’s right to change the government if it is not benefiting them.