"Their case is weak, but the care shown by journalists and members of Congress has protected against making that argument stronger."
Signs that Americans are rallying against NSA surveillance include an Oct. 26 protest scheduled for Washington, D.C. Thousands of protesters are expected to participate in the gathering to mark the 12th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Patriot Act, which governs how the NSA operates today.
Besides the impact in the U.S., NSA spying is having repercussions overseas.
"I believe that the impact of these revelations outside of the United States is huge," Peter Ludlow, a critic of U.S. government surveillance and a professor at Northwestern University, said.
"I'm currently in Brazil, and it is all anyone wants to talk about."
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff postponed attending a state dinner in her honor in Washington, D.C., this month, because of revelations of NSA spying on herself, the state-owned oil company and Brazilians.
Media reports on NSA surveillance overseas are expected to have an impact on negotiations over the free trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. Members of the European parliament are pushing for privacy rights for its citizens.
"The recent US surveillance program scandal has revealed how important it is to agree upon a solid and strengthened piece of EU legislation on data protection," Antigoni Papadopoulou, a member of the parliament's civil rights, justice and home affairs committee, said last month.
"In any case, the EU has a legal and moral obligation to protect its citizens from espionage practices and abuse of their personal data."
In the U.S., the privacy debate stemming from the NSA's work is expected to bleed over to other discussions in Congress. Talks that could be affected include those on proposals to require sharing of cyber-attack information between government and the private sector to bolster the security of financial institutions and the nation's critical infrastructure.
"It creates a political climate where it's very unlikely that they can move forward with cyber-security bills they've been talking about previously, such as CISPA," Reitman said, referring to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.
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