The U.S. government has been looking and often gathering and collecting data on almost every phone call, website visited, and credit card transaction we make. In case you want to get caught up one this issue which hit the news world hard yesterday, this article on the National Security Agency (NSA) program called Prism is a good quick start. Here's a juicy quote of a quote from the article:

The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

The highly classified program, code-named PRISM, has not been disclosed publicly before. Its establishment in 2007 and six years of exponential growth took place beneath the surface of a roiling debate over the boundaries of surveillance and privacy. Even late last year, when critics of the foreign intelligence statute argued for changes, the only members of Congress who know about PRISM were bound by oaths of office to hold their tongues.

While it's hard to feel happy about this, could it be necessary to prevent another 9/11? If it did prevent something like a nuclear device being detonated in Chicago killing a million people, would it be worth it? Does this revelation give the bad guys notice that they need a new way to stay in touch?

Obviously, a government needs some secrecy, but how much is too much?

Tags: Agency, FBI, NSA, National, Security, data, mining, privacy, secrecy

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Come on Unseen seriously?

Right to privacy is a human right which falls directly under the liberties of the 4th Amendment which says :

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Also right to privacy is a human right according to UN Declaration of Human rights which The US is voted in favor of  in 1948 and is bounded to it. Human rights fall under natural born liberties. 

Hence trying to give up some liberties for security is actually a bad thing after all. Once you give up a liberty or a right to government, you will never get it back. Look at the FISA act passed in 1978, the father of the Patriot Act, not only is it still in use today, it is exactly what gives the Patriot Act its powers. Basically Patriot Act is the extension of the FISA act. 

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those are all references to privacy.

Liberties are not the same as rights, the Bill of Rights refers to rights, they are there and cannot be taken away, liberties are something you give your kids or your dog and can be removed at will.

In fact, rights stand in opposition to liberty. When you give one person or institution a right, you take a liberty away from other people (or institutions). Name a right and I can tell you how that right was created by creating a limitation elsewhere. Most obviously, when a right is created, the liberty to interfere with the right is created simultaneously. If you have the right to use a jackhammer starting at 7 a.m. (a law which seems to be almost universal), the right to do anything about it evaporates.

How is liberty the issue? Isn't it privacy?

Say the government is using surveillance to target political opponents, dissenters, and critics. How many officials would step forward and blow the whistle, knowing they'd probably spend the rest of their lives on the run or in prison? (The tally so far from the NSA: 1 ) The secrecy makes it extremely difficult to know when the government’s surveillance powers have been abused. 

And abuse them they do. It's practically routine. The DHS conducted illegal surveillance of Occupy Wall Street protesters. The FBI illegally spied and retained information on political groups because of anti-war views. The White House orders the CIA to start a smear campaign to destroy the reputation of a college professor critical of the war in Iraq. The Sixth District Court vacates the Stored Communication Act-- an act by which the entire US government had illegally claimed it didn't need search warrants anymore to seize email--  because "to the extent that the SCA purports to permit the government to obtain such emails warrantlessly, the SCA is unconstitutional".

That's real deal: real abuses, real violations of the law (by law enforcement), and actual legislation that attempted to strip away a Fourth Amendment right-- real liberty-- all in the name of government spying. And that's just a short list of what we know about.

There are other implications for privacy on liberty as well. When people feel like "the man" is watching them they think twice about exercising basic democratic freedoms: visiting (or publishing) perfectly legal but unpopular or officially disfavored Web sites, joining groups with controversial political or social views (like TA), or criticizing government policies and officials.

That's the chilling effect of surveillance on privacy. The exercise of other rights (especially First Amendment rights) are inhibited: public discourse, expression, debate, criticism and protest. All of those things are essential to freedom and democracy.

The kind of liberty you are talking about is self-imposed. One person may feel inhibited another person not.

The kind of liberty you are talking about is self-imposed. One person may feel inhibited another person not.

Which means nothing. The United States Supreme Court has long-since established that the chilling effect is a threat to First Amendment liberty and it does not require everyone to feel the same chill to declare a cold snap. 

You're citing the Supreme Court. Will you cite them as well if they decide that what's going on doesn't infringe on the 4th Amendment?

Let me cite Jean-Paul Sartre's dreadful freedom: we are always free at all times, like it or not.

You're citing the Supreme Court. Will you cite them as well if they decide that what's going on doesn't infringe on the 4th Amendment?

If they do decide the 4th isn't being infringed, it won't invalidate Chilling Effect, it will mean the NSA proved to the SCOTUS that it DOES properly get warrants.

That is, it would mean the NSA proves that before every wiretap or electronic file access, the NSA goes to court, provides probable cause that a crime has been or is about to be committed, and particularly describes who, where, and what is to be searched and seized, how long the surveillance is required, and more. And then it gets a warrant.

If the Supreme Court finds this is the case, then the NSA is not infringing on the Fourth Amendment after all. I'll be delighted (and astonished) because this is exactly what I want: for the NSA to follow the law and uphold the Constitution. So absolutely, I'd cite the case.

The Fourth Amendement

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It's simply impossible for human agents to be listening in on every conversation, so much of the so-called "listening" is likely done by computers watching for key words or phrases, which is "listening in" in a very metaphorical sense.

Apparently, the humans who may have listened in on individual American's conversations worked only indirectly for the government, but instead were employed by a contractor named Booz Allen Hamilton. So, we have yet to find out if that listening in was policy or any number of other things: misunderstanding of guidelines, misapplication of guidelines, individual abuse by under-supervised agents, etc.

I'll be watching the hearings to see exactly what the policies were and whether they were applied as intended or misapplied.

Gallup brought up a very interesting point.

If your right to privacy is infringed on, are you less likely pursue a course of action which is guaranteed by constitutional liberty?

Since the government is monitoring overseas calls, are you going to be less likely to call someone, perhaps a family member, overseas and engage in conversations which can result in being critical of government policies and/or even being sympathetic toward groups that the government considers anti-government or anti-American? 

Technically you have every right to do so under constitutional rights. But if you feel scared or fearful of government reprisals then your liberties are in fact being infringed on. As you can  see, this is a clear situation of privacy laws affecting personal liberties that you are guaranteed by the US Constitution. 

Since the government might be listening to the goings on on TA, and since you are expressing displeasure with the Federal government, I'm surprised you continue speak up considering you apparently fear a team of government agents will drag you off into the night. You really should tone it down, don't you think?

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