I'd just like to point out a bit of idiocy I'm seeing repeated more and more often. It's the new version of "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide." Since people have gotten schooled on the imbecility of that statement so many times, they've shifted to a new permutation:
"Your life isn't interesting enough for the NSA to care about. You're just a boring dude. The government doesn't care what porn you watch or what video games you play."
If you say this, you're an idiot.
Hey, maybe you're a boring person who never uses the internet for anything but email and OCN. Maybe you never travel internationally, maybe all you friends are white people from English-speaking countries. Maybe you're a whitebread, apple pie-eating, patriotic dullard who's never had a controversial thought or idea. Maybe your data will never get more than a cursory scan from an NSA algorithm.
Guess what? Real life's more complicated than that. Everyone's got secrets. And given the global reach of the internet, odds are you're within a couple degrees of separation of some shady folks. The issue with the NSA is not simply the fact that your data can be searched; the problem is that your data can be searched at will for any reason. The NSA's algorithms that detect patterns are classified. We don't know what will raise a red flag; but we do know that if a red flag is raised, your stuff is being opened, and being perused by an analyst. Maybe you're safe. Maybe red flags only get raised on people with Arab sounding names, or brown people in general. Maybe you have to have visited the middle east. Or maybe you just have to have strongly disapproved of an action the US government took. Or maybe you just have to speak vehemently against the NSA itself. We don't know. The NSA is using algorithms that have not been audited or validated by a third party, and the rate at which they might generate false positives is unknown.
The issue also is that while the NSA was given these powers for the purpose of finding terrorists, the problem is that terrorism does not mean what it meant 15 years ago. Terrorism used to mean strictly a method of violent attack on a populace in order to coerce a government into giving into demands. After 9/11, terrorism became defined as any violent opposition that the US does not support, against an existing nation. Now, even people like Julian Assange are being labeled as terrorists, where even publishing damning evidence of government misdeeds is "terrorism".
The NSA is an agency under command of the Executive branch of the US government, which means ultimately that their mandate and mission is defined by the POTUS. And since there is no effective congressional oversight at all, that means that the President can make any decision he likes regarding the NSA's mission and targets. Now, maybe you think that sounds alarmist or conspiracist. But I just said it on paragraph before; our current administration has targeted government whistleblowers as "terrorists" and I can assure you that Assange, Snowden, and other whistleblowers are under full NSA surveillance, to the best of that organization's capabilities. An organization which was originally meant to furnish information to the FBI, CIA, etc. to prevent terrorist attacks, thwart foreign espionage, and spy on enemy states.
My problem is not with the NSA's existence. My problem is with the vast overreach in power; the lack of any congressional oversight; the mission drift from targeting Russia, China, and Iran, to targeting whistleblowers and journalists.
While individuals in government can be fine, as a whole I trust the government only insofar as the built-in apathy, incompetence, and inefficiency interferes with the all-too-common malicious intent directed against portions of the American citizenry. Like it or not, that inefficiency is the reason Congress and bureaucracy exist, to prevent illegal and malicious actions from being efficiently enforced. But the NSA has been stripped of all of those limitations, and is pursuing its unconstitutional, human-rights violating mission with military efficiency, and you sods are sucking your thumbs and saying you don't mind if the government knows what porn you watch.