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Saturday, January 07, 2006


technology amendment

With the recent debate surrounding Presidential powers to monitor the telecommunications of suspected citizens, as well as the discovery of the NSA, a highly secret department of the government, it seems that our Constitutional Liberties are again unsafe. If we adhere to the protective state point of view, and believe that the Constitution protects or right to privacy, then could a new Amendment be added which would in some way protect our virtual privacy? People currently fear, justifiably so, the threat of identity theft. The amount of information available to those who know how to get and exploit it, greatly enhances ability of cyber criminals to gain access to any conceivable amount of private information; an unpleasant thought. However, while it is true that most people are likely to have their identity stolen in their lifetime, this definition can be broad and the odds of a catastrophic theft of personal information is actually quite low. If we imagine a war-time government, with vast funding, legislative capabilities, and access to the cutting edge of personal surveillance, it is not at all inconceivable to picture our federal government unabashedly mining our private information for potentially misguided reasons of 'security'. Can this amount and level of sensitive information be scrutinized, without any limits on those investigating? Clearly, if ever there were a contemporary reason to adjust the constitution, it would be to protect the new individual rights found within the realms of technology.

I don't understand your post. Why do you think there are no limits?

I've been watching this issue and paying attention to the punditry. I've also pulled out my trusty copy of our Constitution. I believe we have, here, yet another illustration of why we should learn to be a skeptic when it comes to politics.

It seems to me there are clear limits. The President can, on the power granted by the Constitution, direct these sorts of efforts toward our enemies. The 4th amendement seems to my to be relevant to you and I and our fellow Americans, not to our enemies. The President does not have the power, on his own, to direct these sorts of efforts at you or I to find out if we've been commiting a crime against another American. To direct these sorts of efforts at you or I, the executive branch of government must, in general, secure a warrant.

Of course, if these sorts of efforts are directed at our enemies, and if you happen to be "talking" to an enemy (unknowingly I'm sure), then you may be overhead or read in an email. In this case, the effort was directed at an enemy, and I think the President clearly has the Constitutional power to engage in such an effort. If, on the other hand, the President wanted to hear you or read your email, and he does not have a warrant, and if he is discovered and says he was really wanting to spy on an enemy of our country, then that would be a clear abuse of the President's power.

As I've seen, to date, there is no evidence the President was really trying to spy on you, or on other Americans, and then covering it up with the excuse that he was spying on our enemies.
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