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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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?

According to a Washington Post/Pew Research poll, almost 2/3 of Americans are comfortable with the NSA's activities revealed so far.

I'll never forget American flags waving as we were "comfortable" with invading Iraq. (And now, Iraq really does have al Qaeda.) Such responses to terrorism are not only irrational, but can be counter-productive. Our sky-is-falling fear is what terrorists want, and that's what they're getting.

According to a Washington Post/Pew Research poll, almost 2/3 of Americans are comfortable with the NSA's activities revealed so far.

Even if they found 3/3 of the Americans polled "are comfortable with" the NSA's activities, it still wouldn't matter. If the NSA searches and seizes the electronic documents and records of Americans without warrants, those activities are Unconstitutional and illegal, no matter how many Americans are comfortable with it.

That's what the Constitution purposefully does. It limits the powers of the majority over the minority even in democratic society with democratic-elected government. That's good considering how many Americans hate and mistrust atheists.

Awayyyyy we go. This is the first lawsuit. There will be others.

I gave the ACLU an extra donation when the story broke. I'm going to give them another one as a bonus for jumping right on this thing. Wipe your butts with MY Constitution will you? We'll just see about that.

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday (June 11, 2013) filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its “dragnet” collection of logs of domestic phone calls, contending that the once-secret program — whose existence was exposed by a former National Security Agency contractor last week — is illegal and asking a judge to both stop it and order the records purged. more...

Let's discuss this: How much privacy is worth the destruction of a major American city and 100's of thousands if not millions of lives lost or ruined?

Suppose Prism is shut down and as a result a plot to detonate a nuclear weapon in some major city is thereby NOT prevented though it could have been?

IF you want to play what if games then what if we dont shut it down and it happens anyway because the slim leads to the plot are burried amongst a mountian of other leads? 

What if we let prism go on and along with the problems that we are going to run into with global warming, pollution and possible a war we end up like russia?

And you like to ignore the fact that any terrorist group able to aquire a nuclear bomb, transport it into america without being caught and set it off would more than likely be clued up enough to get around prism. As i keep on saying, it is not that hard.

You are trying to set up a false dichotomy here. Either we give up our pivacy or we get nuked by terrorists. But whatever happens in the future could be any combination of those.  We don't even have any information as a society  to make an informed decision here .

And you like to ignore the fact that any terrorist group able to aquire a nuclear bomb, transport it into america without being caught and set it off would more than likely be clued up enough to get around prism. As i keep on saying, it is not that hard.

That doesn't answer my question, which supposed that we took down Prism and as a result let an attack happen.

I will answer your question if you answer mine.

"which supposed that we took down Prism and as a result let an attack happen."

yes that would be bad , it would likely be agreed that prism would have been a good idea.

Now answer my question.

Now supposed we keep prism , relenquish all privacy rights fromthe government and we still get bombed? or we keep it and it gets abused untill we und up with as much freedom as russia?

Oh, that would be bad, too, but just because that one didn't get caught, we might yet catch another one, whereas under your plan both would happen. It's the old "They only need to succeed once; we need to succeed every time" which ain't gonna happen. It's about minimizing terrorism not eliminating it entirely. If you feel that unless we always succeed in preventing terrorism it isn't worth the effort, that's a very extreme and impractical position, and not one you're likely to find much sympathy for.

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