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House Democrats Propose Wiretapping Legislation

Wiretapping: Which is More Important — Privacy or Security?

House Democrats unveiled new legislation yesterday in an effort to update the nation's wiretapping program. The new proposal rejects the version of the bill passed in the Senate that would give telecommunications companies legal immunity for participation in the program following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

President Bush and House Republicans stand firm that the Senate version of the legislation (FISA) should be passed. While the emphasis on tying the legislation to 9/11 makes it seem new, apparently data mining has been much more extensive than previously known.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "many of the programs in various agencies began years before the 9/11 attacks but have since been given greater reach." This means, for example, the NSA is not only listening to your telephone conversations but also reading your emails, gathering your bank transfers, credit card transactions and travel itineraries. Check out this WSJ graphic for details. The Bush Administration's FISA seeks to grant immunity to companies that abet in government surveillance from lawsuits making Americans' privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment, seem tenuous.

Do you always feel like somebody's watching you? Or do you think if you're keeping your nose clean, it's not a big deal who's checking your email?


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