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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?


Join The Conversation
kh61582 kh61582 9 years
Foxie was absolutely right. You people need to understand that the government doesn't care about your personal life unless it involves blowing up a building. If you are not a terrorist then you have no reason to oppose this legislation. As far as the Ben Franklin quote, this is not an issue of temporary safely. These terrorists are here to stay unless someone does something about it and if nothing is done then our safety is never assured.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
LOL ratten! you are cracking me up today!
Rattenfreund Rattenfreund 9 years
"i dont give a rip about privacy" That reminds me of the Jack Handy Deep Thought: "Consider the Daffodil. And while you do I'll be looking through your stuff." But seriously, is the fact that the US has such poor data protection really a reason to throw in the towel and not care about privacy at all? (If you say yes, I'll be over here looking through your stuff). :wink:
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
i dont give a rip about privacy, i mean really, I just went out to get lunch, Got my picture taken at the atm, my purchases recorded for all time (1/2 tuna sub at subway baby!) because i used my debit, used my code to get back into work.....whats privacy?
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
lil, thanks for pointing out the Constitution part. I get so tired of writing the same things about the Constitution. Hmm...Maybe I should write a blog about the common misconceptions of the Constitution. :ponder: That would take quite a bit of time since there are so many of them.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I couldnt care less. And either way, I dont think we have a choice; they'll do whatever the heck they want to and get away with it whether or not anyone finds out.
Rattenfreund Rattenfreund 9 years
There is no reason to allow wiretapping and access to personal data with no oversight. Such a system invites abuse. Even if we could all agree that at the present moment this is not being abused (and I am sure we could not), you do not set up the system in such a way that anyone in government has unbridled power. Asking for such power is already suspect - the prudent person would want checks and balances if only to protect himself or herself from later accusations that they had abused their power. By the way, would you accept it of the police could come into your home at any time whether you were aware of it or not and search all your things? Take what they want? And if such a system started with honest people doing an honest job, how long do you think it would stay that way? Corruption among politicians, federal employees, the police? Never! Who could even imagine such an absurd concept! Unbridled power for all of them! :rofl:
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I believe that there has to be some sort of balance. As someone else stated, the government is not sitting around listening in on conversations you have with your boyfriend. I know have been a few cases of the government using these surveillance techniques for personal reasons, but those cases seem to be the exception, not the rule. A balance is definitely needed, it's just difficult to determine what the appropriate balance is. As for the "right to privacy" being "enshrined in the Constitution," that's simply not true. The "Constitutional right to privacy" we all place so much importance on is not actually a part of the Constitution, but the result of several Supreme Court cases, wherein the justices found the "right to privacy" in the penumbras or shadows of certain amendments. Obviously no one can know what the founders intended when they drafted the Constitution, but I believe they purposely used vague words, like "unreasonable" and "probable." I believe they chose these words because they knew they could be interpreted in different ways, which would allow the Constitution to change with the times.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
Foxie, Regarding your "1", the issue is potential for abuse of a secret system exits. We do not know who, what, why, or how, when surveillance was conducted. For all anyone knows there could have been an element of personal attack involved. I recall reading a case where the IRS was found to be used in an effort to collect dirt on someone, and it was a personal issue. Of course, the famous cases of celebrity surveillance, civil rights leaders surveillance, political leader surveillance, religious leader surveillance, communist surveillance, etc. There has to be a mechanism in place to check power. There's a book that describes in detail some of the abuses the U.S. has already experienced with regard to surveillance. I wanna say it is Roy Cohn's bio, but more than likely it is a bio on Hoover. Will post back if I remember and have a chance to log in.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
Imo, privacy and security are not at odds. To make it into a zero-sum, either/or situation means there has not been enough discussion or innovation involved in settling the divisive parts of the issue. I expect my representative government to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to respect my privacy and protect my country. In addition, there were already liberal wiretapping laws in place. It has been confirmed that those laws were flagrantly disregarded and that deserves investigation into the how and why. After that, I nominate “sneak and peek” for a little check and balance action.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Yeah Foxie, some DoD employees are not suppose to discuss the specifics of their jobs with anyone. And my dad didn't disclose what he did or who exactly he worked for to anyone that I know of until years after he had retired, the info/job he worked on was declassified and he only provided details to us after his Parkinson's medications started to make him loopy. Then he was like a sieve. I think he wanted to tell us (his children) what he had been doing when he left the Navy - I think he wanted us to say we were proud of the work he had done. I am/was proud of what he did, it wasn't James Bondish or Tom Clancyesque or anything.
foxie foxie 9 years
Er, I'm not sure why I did the dramatic 1- 2- thing... Disregard that.
foxie foxie 9 years
1- It always amazes me how so many people seem to think the government has the resources to listen in on their phone calls to their boyfriends or mistresses. Newsflash- if you aren't a particularly suspicious target, you're not getting listened in on. And baila, no one gives enough of a sh!t about you to care if you like something Muslim. 2- Wack- I realize not everyone adheres to suggested guidelines, but aren't government members with confidential jobs typically advised not to disclose the fact that their jobs are, in fact, secret?
phatE phatE 9 years
brookish.. most of the information you're referring to wouldn't be made public for safety reasons.. i personally think under good legislation, (leaning more towards security first) than privacy is the way to go.. i personally don't have anything to hide and i don't know how else we're going to be able to prevent future issues if that's not an option..
zeze zeze 9 years
I think the more rights that are forfeited (or taken away) then the more the terrorists are winning. Bin Laden's attacks were based on destroying our way of life and actions like these help his cause. By like NYFashionista said, this would happen with or without our consent, government is government and a lot of our rights/liberties have a level of illusion to them, now more than ever.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Bookish - I'm sure most of that info is classified, but I think I remember hearing rumblings about wiretaps breaking up cells in England after the subway bombings... not sure though, so don't quote me on that.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Forgive me if this sounds ignorant- but have any cases come to light where wiretapping has diverted any crises, or thwarted any terrorist plots? I can't think of any, and it seems like the current administration would trumpet news of any success in this area.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
hahah. This is funny. It happens whether we like it or not. My father owns his own business and has many suppliers in South Asia (including Pakistan). A couple years after 9-11, his suppliers weren't getting his emails nor was he getting theirs. He hired a private investigator...lo and behold, the emails were being diverted to the FBI. so it doesn't matter what we prefer. Our govt is going to do what they want.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Clarient, Franklin denied ever saying such a thing.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
*I don't like that now...
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I chose - "Good legislation! That should trump. There has to be an acceptable compromise." There needs to be a way to balance, personal privacy with National security. I don't that now the power to do a in-detail taps and searches is in the hands of individual FBI and other government agencies and that they do not have to have "just cause" any longer. Currently as things stand the measures to protect a person from total governmental invasion of privacy have been suspended and this can and probably has lead to an abuse of this new found ability. And I grew up knowing that the things said aloud or in writing where being monitored by the government. I knew this because of what my father did for a living. He flat out told us, that there were things that we should not say to others or write down or ask about because of his position with the DoD. I remember in school they often sent home these "official" documents where they wanted details of what my parents did for a living. My mom when she filled them out would write "housewife" for herself and "confidential" for my dad. Those forms always got kicked back to me and I'd take them home for my mom to redo and my dad would step in and visit the school's offices and inform them that my parents weren't obligated to help the school get more funding from the government and that his job is of a "confidential need to know basis". And that the secretary and paper pushers at my school and my siblings schools did not truly need to know what he did for a living. I always looked forward to the first weeks of school when those papers were handed out and everyone else would get one with their name on it but I wouldn't get one. Less paper for me to lose on the way home.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
It all depends on the standard for "keeping your nose clean" - what constitutes behaviour/activity suspicious enough to attract the attention of the Feds? Who decides? Will the standard change? Can this be used for non-homeland-security-related things as well - will the Feds be knocking at my door if my web searches reveal I have a penchant for Classical Arabic literature (ooo possibly Muslim!) and kinky sex (though not together)? I have friends all over the world, and I stay in touch with them. I travel quite frequently. I disagree with most everything about the current administration, and don't keep that fact on the down-low. What of this is likely to make me a target? How can we be sure we're actually keeping our noses clean if we don't know what the standards are? Privacy is enshrined in the Constitution for a reason - our Founding Fathers weren't stupid. IMHO, everyone in government (particularly the executive branch) needs to be sat down and forced to read (and understand) the Federalist Papers. For real.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"I want some checks & balances on what any administration can do." Agreed!
stephley stephley 9 years
We had checks and balances built into the system that was abused and brought us to where we are today.
kmariem kmariem 9 years
Are you kidding me? We can have both. Fisa allows various wiretapping activities with court oversight. I don't know about you, but I want some checks & balances on what any administration can do. If not, as the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And we are lost as a democratic nation.
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