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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 eskimospy on 10/23/2010 12:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
Of course elected officials represent their own beliefs and agendas, that is part of the definition of representative democracy as opposed to direct democracy.

Yes, the US is still a democracy.

Grow up.


RE: What blows my mind
By Reclaimer77 on 10/23/2010 6:27:59 PM , Rating: 1
Actually the U.S is a Republic, idiot. If it was a Democracy we wouldn't need representatives, we would vote on everything.

There's something out there called a dictionary, maybe you've heard of it?


RE: What blows my mind
By eskimospy on 10/24/2010 2:24:52 PM , Rating: 2
From the Oxford English Dictionary:

a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state , typically through elected representatives.

From Dictionary.com entry 'representative democracy':

a type of democracy in which the citizens delegate authority to elected representatives.

Do these definitions sound like any country you might know?

We are both a republic and a democracy, as both things describe different aspects of our political system. Seriously guy, if you're going to debate definitions, be sure you actually know what they are first. I've noticed that you like to opine about how little people know about politics, but you frequently make elementary mistakes about very basic concepts.

You already screwed yourself on this one because earlier you said the US 'isn't a democracy anymore', which implicitly states that it once was. Since the US has been the same form of democratic republic since it was created, if you didn't consider that democracy then the US never was one to begin with.

What you were really doing was throwing a temper tantrum because people put in office in overwhelming majorities by free and fair elections are doing things you don't like. Instead of being a man about it and understanding that losing has consequences, you whine about our system of government. That's why I told you to grow up.

You're still free to take my advice on that.


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