“In a democracy, people are entitled to know what techniques are being used by the government to spy on them, how the records are being held, and for how long, who will have access to them, and the safeguards in place to prevent abuse. Only then can they evaluate official claims that the correct balance between fighting terrorism and preserving individual liberty has been struck, and decide if they are willing to accept diminished privacy and liberty. If Americans have been slow to recognize the dangerous overreach of the N.S.A.’s phone surveillance, it is largely because they have scant information to judge the government’s conduct.”
“The Alarming Age of Surveillance,” NYT Editorial Board
I would add that we also have to know how successful the surveillance is, if it’s really stopping terrorist acts. If it’s not accomplishing anything, obviously we haven’t struck the right balance because we’re giving up something without getting anything in return.