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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: What blows my mind
By The Raven on 10/22/2010 11:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, thank you for continuing this reason filled discussion. I hate the flame fests that start up here sometimes. I think that people do not discuss (REALLY discuss) politics enough these days. It is all about LiLo and Paris Hilton and what not.

quote:
We as a society choose our actions by selecting representatives to act in our place as they see fit for a set period of time. Those who we elected to do this acted within the scope of their duties as we have laid them out, therefore we as a society chose to take those actions. It was a democratic process, because that's how things work in a representative democracy.

You are right. But the same thing can be said of a society that elects a monarchy or a tyrant for that matter (as many kings have been tyrants). The big difference is of course the time limit. But with a tyrant he usually eliminates that ;-).

Part of the problem I see is that people vote based on one issue in a 2-party system because they "don't have enough time" to figure out who best represents them. I think that is why we have so many race/religion based organizations that make the decisions for their adherents. And when these people do go to the polls they vote straight ticket, because that is the best way to get one issue backed. I vote single issue too...the only issue I want backed is freedom aka minimal gov't.

The result is dems who want more financial freedom and reps who want more personal freedom are not represented at all.
What kind of representation is that?


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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