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A history of U.S. wiretapping: The Bill of Rights to Snowden

Posting in Government

It has been an interesting few weeks for privacy advocates worldwide.

In a disclosure that has probably given the U.S. government a number of sleepless nights, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden went to the media and dropped a bombshell over the NSA's surveillance methods, used on both American citizens and foreign nationals.

A confidential program called PRISM collects the metadata of both phonecalls and online activity. The reveal of the controversial data mining scheme brought with it a torrent of worldwide outrage. North Korea and China began a "pot kettle black" attack through state-run newspapers, and documents revealed that the U.S. government allegedly has been hacking into foreign computers for the last few years as well as checking up on its own citizens.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong in fear of possible extradition demands -- a prophecy later fulfilled by the Obama Administration. Wanted on charges of espionage -- irony aside -- he booked a flight to Cuba but never got on the plane, leaving a number of journalists fuming and stuck on the 12-hour flight.

Now, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that Snowden is still a transit passenger at Moscow Airport, and we are all waiting to see what the whistleblower's next move will be.

But where did all this begin?

The infographic below, provided by website whocalledmyphone.net, starts from the beginning with the Bill of Rights, all the way through to the current Snowden chase. U.S. President Obama recently said that there has to be a compromise between privacy and safety -- and so some surveillance methods are justified -- but we are yet to see the repercussions of Snowden's disclosure, and how the general public will react to the U.S. government's spying methods.

— By on June 25, 2013, 7:37 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure