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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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The American Problem
By Setsunayaki on 10/22/2010 1:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
The american problem in my eyes has always been a regard for opinion over law. The idea few commit a wrong and the majority are punished for it... How about the premise of "Good Laws are for the Bad, and Bad laws are for the Good"

Thanks to this, we have "Exceptions" by opinion and speculation. Example:

The members of the press are those who are average citizens. They do not have more "rights" than a regular citizen. They do have broadcast rights...

A member of the press breaks into a home, covers a story and all of a sudden its all over the media...unquestioned! A man gets attacked by a neighbor, the man across the street records a movie through his phone, All of a sudden everyone is running to the constitution....

I walk into a super-market...Cameras trained on me from every direction...Service with a smile, warmed to the touch. Someone gets robbed or something happens inside a one cares...

Literally you get some excuse proving such devices are not designed to really "make people feel safe" but sure, someone steals something...all of a sudden cameras are everywhere.

Americans simply do not trust each other. They claim they can trust, but always there is a camera or surveillance device trained on you or some scheme. Americans won't even talk directly because they are afraid they will be sued or attacked for saying the wrong thing or wording it wrong.

Instead, Americans spend more of their time bottling up their hostilities and opinions and come out in Online sites no one really care about.

I have never been witness to such a fearful and broken population as Americans and American Culture and Life. The greatest contradiction to belief and opinion ever conceived...

Europeans learn to fight as they grow up...They know when the Government tries something they don't like...Europeans will REFUSE to deal with the EURO and will INVEST IN GOLD and will riot on the streets and refuse to work.

Warrants only work well if the law actually protects without bias, but unfortunately they dont so anyone can get a warrant these games against an average citizen without resistance while it takes the weight of the world to get a warrant against anyone with money and power.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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