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The key issue with the Obama administration's new proposal to strengthen warrantless spying initiatives is multifold. First, the proposal could damage U.S. telecommunications businesses.   (Source: Associated Press)

Further, on top of the questionable nature on violating privacy rights of U.S. citizens talking to foreign citizens (currently legal under the Patriot Act), it's virtually impossible to tell a foreign citizen using a foreign service from a U.S. one. Thus communications between two U.S. citizens could be intercepted and the citizens' privacy rights illegally violated.
Plan would fine companies that don't pay to assist government in warranted and warrantless spying on U.S. citizens

Few would argue the need for the U.S. government to protect itself and critical domestic infrastructure from foreign attacks.  And fewer still would debate whether our country should use high-tech surveillance to monitor countries like China and Russia that have shown a propensity to attack unprotected U.S. systems when they have the chance.

More controversial, however, is the domestic spying efforts closely tied to the terrorism.  Namely the National Security Agency (NSA), under the Patriot Act of 2001, was given the right warrantless wiretaps of calls between U.S. and foreign citizens.  That alone was controversial enough, but an expose in The New York Times showed that domestic calls between two
U.S. citizens were also being intercepted, in what the NSA dubbed an "accident".

A special Obama administration task force consisting of U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, NSA, Federal Bureau of Investigations, local law enforcement, and more is looking to reinforce warrantless wiretap.  The move is perhaps unsurprising, considering that the council shares many of the same experts that mastermind President George W. Bush's original Patriot Act.

The group is proposing new legislation designed at reinforcing the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law published during the Clinton administration that demanded that telecommunications prepare to begin surveillance of suspects as soon as a court order is issued. 

Under the proposed changes, telecoms would be mandated to not only prepare for such instances, but also for warrantless wiretapping as spelled out under the Patriot Act.  Those telecoms who complied fully would be rewarded with undisclosed incentives, while those who resist or were slow to comply would face fines or other penalties.

Albert Gidari Jr., a lawyer who represents telecommunications firms, tells The New York Times that such legislation would be devastating to the civilian telecommunications industry.  He states, "The government’s answer is 'don't deploy the new services — wait until the government catches up.  But that’s not how it works. Too many services develop too quickly, and there are just too many players in this now."

Previously detailed nuances of the plan call for the government also to gain new warrantless surveillance powers over other communications resources such as email (e.g. Gmail), text messages (including encrypted services, like RIM's), social networks (e.g. Facebook), and internet forums.

Multiple issues surround the overarching proposal.  One is in the potential economic damage it could cause the free market at a time when it is already struggling to recover.

A second issue is perhaps the most critical one.  Under current legal precedent, U.S. citizens can only have their Constitutional rights annulled if they are communicating with suspicious foreign citizens.  However, to determine what users of foreign services are actually foreign citizens is almost impossible as foreign telecoms and internet firms have no real necessity to comply with U.S. requests for information.  Thus U.S. citizens use foreign cell phones, operating on foreign web sites, or using foreign-based email services, may have their Constitutional rights violated
even while communicating with other U.S. citizens.

There is no clear solution to this problem.

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RE: And what
By Dr of crap on 10/21/2010 3:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
As stated -
So what would you have Federal authorities do. Observe a suspected terrorist, but as soon a he picks up a phone, whoa....can't listen in. Maybe we can get a judge to sign a warrant tomorrow and hopefully he hasn't coordinated 2000lbs of Ricin into the NY subway system while we wait.

If YOU have dealings with suspect people, YOU are going to be watched, leagle or otherwise. I have not and will not have any dealings with people such as this and so HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE.
As I said before - I do not want the govt to have more power. If I was suspected in doing something wrong - then tap my conversations!
You do know there is a no-fly list? Are you against this as well?
And Yes if you are from a certain country/area of the world you might be more inclined to be watched - sorry. That's how the world is right now.
Call it profling if you want to - but it's really needed!

And nice to throw in the kid reference.
But if you tap conversations to stop another 9/11 - it's worth it isn't it? Or would you rather have innocent suffer because our govt went soft agian and didn't go after suspect people they could have with a phone tap!

RE: And what
By drando on 10/21/2010 6:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yea! To hell with the constitution and it's guarantees of our rights and freedoms! We don't need those anyway as long we maintain an illusion of safety!

RE: And what
By Invane on 10/22/2010 1:06:29 PM , Rating: 2
But if you tap conversations to stop another 9/11 - it's worth it isn't it?

No, it is not. This sentence has become the basis for all manner of trampling on citizens rights.

But if you slap tracking devices on innocent citizens' cars to stop another 9/11 - it's worth it isn't it?

But if you water board a few SUSPECTED terrorist prisoners to stop another 9/11 - it's worth it isn't it?

But if you <insert desired civil rights violation here> to stop another 9/11 - it's worth it isn't it?

God DAMN no it's not worth it. How do you think police states start? With the above rhetoric and a slow erosion of citizens rights. You take away all their freedom at once, they start a revolution. You take them away slowly and they accept the new status quo each time.

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