US presidential race issues: Privacy

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The 2016 Elections and Privacy

Ever since NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents revealing the scope of the global surveillance programs run by the U.S. National Security Agency, privacy has been an important talking point for anyone running for president. So where do the 2016 presidential candidates stand on the issue?

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Democrats typically believe privacy is a right guaranteed by our Founding Fathers, while Republicans feel that if you don't have anything to hide, privacy should take the backseat to national security. But when it comes to privacy in the 2016 presidential race, candidates aren't sticking to party lines.


Rand Paul
Republican Rand Paul has been the most outspoken against the NSA (you might remember the Kentucky senator filibustering the renewal of the Patriot Act back in May.) He claims our Founding Fathers would be "mortified" by the NSA's phone program.

Bernie Sanders
The only candidate who comes close to Paul's position is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. He voted against Patriot Act extensions every time, and has pushed for stronger congressional oversight of the NSA.

Ted Cruz
Republican Texas senator Ted Cruz feels the NSA's data collection program went too far and co-sponsored an alternative measure.

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(MAIN) 2016 issues: Privacy
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US presidential race issues: Privacy
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: People wait in line in a steady rain to enter the Supreme Court Tuesday morning. The court takes on the issue of privacy in digital age with cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants on April 29, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
CLINTON, IA - AUGUST 16: Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds up his mobile phone while answering a question about privacy issues during a campaign event at the IAFF Local 809 Union Hall August 16, 2015 in Clinton, Iowa. Sanders was scheduled for a full day of campaigning in eastern Iowa today. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks during an interview with the Associated Press in New Orleans, Monday, May 18, 2015. Republicans clashed over the future of government surveillance programs on Monday, highlighting a deep divide among the GOP's 2016 presidential class over whether the National Security Agency should be collecting American citizens' phone records in the name of preventing terrorism. Walker three times declined to say whether he supported reauthorizing the program. He said it was "important to be able to collect information like that," as long as there were unspecified privacy safeguards. After the interview, a spokesman emailed to say that Walker supported continuing the program as it exists, with the NSA storing American phone records. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
NSA former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden talks as he participates via video link from Russia (Above) to a parliamentary hearing on the subject of 'Improving the protection of whistleblowers', held by Dutch rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt (Bottom C) on June 23, 2015, at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, northeastern France. Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia, is being sought by Washington which has branded him a hacker and a traitor who endangered lives by revealing the extent of the NSA spying program. AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) heads back to his office after two television interviews in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. In protest of the National Security Agency's sweeping program to collect U.S. citizens' telephone metadata, Paul blocked an extension of some parts of the USA PATRIOT Act, allowing them to lapse at 12:01 a.m. Monday. The Senate will continue to work to restore the lapsed authorities by amending a House version of the bill and getting it to President Obama later this week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to media as he meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 29, 2015. The president said a "handful of senators" are the only thing standing in the way of an extension of key Patriot Act provisions before they expire at midnight Sunday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In this photo taken Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Silicon Valley pioneer and Silent Circle co-founder Jon Callas holds up Blackphone with encryption apps displayed on it at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Revelations about the NSA's electronic eavesdropping capabilities, with targets reported to include Chancellor Angela Merkel, have sparked anger in Germany, and a boom in encryption services that make it hard for the most sophisticated spies to read emails, listen to calls or comb through texts. “Snowden’s leaks were a real boon for us,” said Callas, whose company sells an encryption app which allows users to talk and text in private. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington during a rally to demand that the U.S. Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Protestors hold signs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act with National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and National Security Agency Directory Gen. Keith Alexander. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23: National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers speaks about cyber security at The New America Fondations cyber security conference at the Ronald Reagan building February 23, 2014 in Washington, DC. The day-long conference brings together experts and practitioners from various sectors to discuss a wide range of cybersecurity issues. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 17: Alli McCracken joins activists protesting the surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA outside the Justice Department where U.S. President Barack Obama gave a major speech on reforming the NSA January 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama was expected to announce reforms including a requirement by intelligence agencies to obtain permission from a secret court before utilizing access to telephonic data gathered on U.S. citizens. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11: (L to R) Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, and general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert Litt testify during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee December 11, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing on 'Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, speaks during a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, June 12, 2015. Christie, wooing Iowans, ripped federal lawmakers who he said used their opposition to renewing the Patriot Act as a fundraising pitch. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Hundreds gather for a rally and march to stop NSA surveillance and government monitoring near the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, October 26, 2013, in Washington, DC. Today is the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA Patriot Act. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 31: (L - R) Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) listens as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to reporters after exiting the Senate chamber, on Capitol Hill, May 31, 2015 in Washington, DC. The National Security Agency's authority to collect bulk telephone data is set to expire June 1, unless the Senate can come to an agreement to extend the surveillance programs. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton's stance is more elusive when it comes to her stand on surveillance. She supported the Patriot Act and its reauthorization in 2006, but voted against the NSA expanding its spying powers in 2008 and says the agency should be more transparent and restrict the collection of phone records.

Other candidates are falling along party lines:

Jeb Bush
Republican Jeb Bush is a huge supporter of the NSA's programs government spying programs (his brother George is the one who started them after 9/11, after all). Jeb Bush believes the agency's data collection program is critical for fighting terrorism.


Scott Walker
Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker argues for a balance between security and privacy, but favors security.

Marco Rubio
Republican Florida senator Marco Rubio is a strong supporter of the NSA's collection program, claiming it's critical for national security.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump says the United States needs the phone collection program and stated he would "execute" Edward Snowden for leaking the confidential documents that opened up the debate.
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