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The question that has yet to be answered to my satisfaction (re: Snowden)

StringBean

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?
 

nota bene

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I'd say yes...but expect contrarian opinions on this. There are some who think that anything that the feds do for "national security" or "our own good" is okay.
 

sangha

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?
No, collecting that information is not like breaking into your house and taking items of yours. I understand why many people see their internet communications as being similar to mailing a letter (which is protected under the constitution), but in reality it is more like broadcasting your message on a radio frequency. Anyone with the right equipment and know how could intercept your transmission.

This doesn't mean that it's a good idea to allow the govt to collect this info. I'm just saying that IMO, it doesn't raise constitutional issues.
 

clownboy

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I'd like it to be unconstitutional, but it's not. And no, not even in principle. We have only to look back to the founder's own time and the example of Benedict Arnold who was caught because we intercepted his mail and read it, all without his knowledge or permission (sans warrant too).
 

ForcedAppeal

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I'd like it to be unconstitutional, but it's not. And no, not even in principle. We have only to look back to the founder's own time and the example of Benedict Arnold who was caught because we intercepted his mail and read it, all without his knowledge or permission (sans warrant too).
What would the Constitution have to do with Benedict Arnold?
 

specklebang

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I'd like it to be unconstitutional, but it's not. And no, not even in principle. We have only to look back to the founder's own time and the example of Benedict Arnold who was caught because we intercepted his mail and read it, all without his knowledge or permission (sans warrant too).
What would the Constitution have to do with Benedict Arnold?
Excellent example and I don't see why Forced is arguing.

As long as a Democrat is President, he will be seen by Democrats as operating constitutionally. If the next President is a Republican, then this will be seen by Democrats as a gross violation of the Constitution. Really, it has nothing to do with the Constitution. We burned that a long time ago. Now, its about getting your worshippers to believe in you.
 

ForcedAppeal

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Excellent example and I don't see why Forced is arguing.

As long as a Democrat is President, he will be seen by Democrats as operating constitutionally. If the next President is a Republican, then this will be seen by Democrats as a gross violation of the Constitution. Really, it has nothing to do with the Constitution. We burned that a long time ago. Now, its about getting your worshippers to believe in you.
Arguing? I was merely wondering what the treatment of Benedict Arnold had to do with current governmet practices and whether they are Constitutional. The Benedict Arnold incident referenced was about 15 years before the Constitution was enacted. Many things which the founders may have legally done under their (at that point) mixed system of british commonwealth laws and their 'temporary' laws may not have been enshrined in the 'future' Constitution.
 

specklebang

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Arguing? I was merely wondering what the treatment of Benedict Arnold had to do with current governmet practices and whether they are Constitutional. The Benedict Arnold incident referenced was about 15 years before the Constitution was enacted. Many things which the founders may have legally done under their (at that point) mixed system of british commonwealth laws and their 'temporary' laws may not have been enshrined in the 'future' Constitution.
My apology. I shouldn't have used the term "arguing". I think the analogy is accurate enough despite your point that this preceded the Constitution itself. What I think is implied is that it is customary for the government to spy on us. I certainly don't appreciate or support it, I just comprehend it. Enshrined or not, the Constitution is a basic document whose application in no way resembles the original concepts.
 

clownboy

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What would the Constitution have to do with Benedict Arnold?
His case is an example of how the founders of the day were willing to make exceptions to their budding constitutional principles during times of threat. Also why they did not protect external communications (like the mail) specifically when they laid down the Constitution. The privacy protections set upon the US Mail were post Constitution.
 

CanadaJohn

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?
The falacy, in my opinion, in your argument is that you equate your digital activity as being private to you when, in fact, it is anything but private. When you sign a contract with a phone provider or an internet access provider, you are providing them with your personal information, willingly, with the understanding that the exchange of information is necessary for you to access their systems. Once that information is collected, the service provider can use it as they please, provided they don't make information protected under privacy laws public.

The government is not accessing your information from you - they are accessing business records held by a business entity and that business entity has those records because you agreed to it.

Now, if we're talking about your actual conversations, that would be something that would require a warrant which the government could obtain if the digital records identify a pattern of suspicious activity involving known non-national entities they are following, as an example. But neither the government nor the service provider is listening in on your conversations nor recording everyone's conversations randomly or collectively.
 

SMTA

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I'd say yes...but expect contrarian opinions on this. There are some who think that anything that the feds do for "national security" or "our own good" is okay.
Agreed.

Any form of snooping a citizen's information should require a warrant based upon probable cause.
 

StringBean

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The falacy, in my opinion, in your argument is that you equate your digital activity as being private to you when, in fact, it is anything but private. When you sign a contract with a phone provider or an internet access provider, you are providing them with your personal information, willingly, with the understanding that the exchange of information is necessary for you to access their systems. Once that information is collected, the service provider can use it as they please, provided they don't make information protected under privacy laws public.

The government is not accessing your information from you - they are accessing business records held by a business entity and that business entity has those records because you agreed to it.

Now, if we're talking about your actual conversations, that would be something that would require a warrant which the government could obtain if the digital records identify a pattern of suspicious activity involving known non-national entities they are following, as an example. But neither the government nor the service provider is listening in on your conversations nor recording everyone's conversations randomly or collectively.
I respect your opinion, though I disagree with the premise that because a phone company or ISP is required the principle of a private communication is compromised. I don't think it is Constitutional for Sprint or Comcast to release your private communications without being shown a warrant with "probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." To that end, these companies have a major responsibility, which they are frightfully scarce to uphold given the heavy hand of a prying federal government.

To your final point--"neither the government nor the service provider is listening in on your conversations nor recording everyone's conversations randomly or collectively"--I would argue you have no way to know that. I might suggest that a few months ago you would have said the same of the wholesale collection of the phone communications of 110 million Americans. Now it is being accepted as commonplace and necessary, though of course we weren't made aware of it. How many times will we re-draw the line, until privacy is simply a fanciful notion of the past?
 

CanadaJohn

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I respect your opinion, though I disagree with the premise that because a phone company or ISP is required the principle of a private communication is compromised. I don't think it is Constitutional for Sprint or Comcast to release your private communications without being shown a warrant with "probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." To that end, these companies have a major responsibility, which they are frightfully scarce to uphold given the heavy hand of a prying federal government.

To your final point--"neither the government nor the service provider is listening in on your conversations nor recording everyone's conversations randomly or collectively"--I would argue you have no way to know that. I might suggest that a few months ago you would have said the same of the wholesale collection of the phone communications of 110 million Americans. Now it is being accepted as commonplace and necessary, though of course we weren't made aware of it. How many times will we re-draw the line, until privacy is simply a fanciful notion of the past?
I appreciate your opinion and it's good to see people taking an interest in their own privacy and in the reach of government into their lives.

The reason I'm not overly concerned about listening to conversations is that I don't believe the technology exists that would be able to listen to all conversations and decipher the content of those conversations in a meaningful way to be able to cull the chafe from the truly important or interesting from a national security perspective. As I said on another thread, if you call your phone tech support, you often get someone on the line who speaks such poor English you can't understand a word they say - how is a computer program going to be able to decipher voice communications in a reasonable manner?

I think the NSA programs are looking to compile numerical data that a computer can search for patterns that will then lead to lines and communications that the NSA may want to listen in on and that's when they seek out the warrants you want.
 

Jango

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The N.S.A.'s data centers in Utah = yottabyte.

Does anyone believe that is for metadata? Or, do you believe that is for content?

Which seems more likely?

Look up what Tom Clemente said on CNN after the Boston Marathon bombing about phone call content.
 

RosieS

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Agreed.

Any form of snooping a citizen's information should require a warrant based upon probable cause.
They do - for specific information from a specific source.

It is called the FISA court. In practice it is a rubber stamp since it never denies a warrant request.

But a warrant is (technically) obtained.

Regards from Rosie
 

cpwill

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?
when you write a letter, do you put a "to" and a "from" address on the envelope before you give it to the Postal Service?
 

Diving Mullah

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?
I think it was John Oliver from Daily Show who said..."The scary part is not that the government is doing it, the scary part is they are doing it with breaking any laws"

So your analogy is not exactly correct. It is more like if you lived in a hotel room and FBI asked the Hotel manager to open the door to your room for a search. After all the Hotel owns the room and you have no rights to privacy (it is only a courtesy on behave of the Hotel for providing the illusion)

Let me explain...

Government went to ATT Verizon, Google and other phone and internet companies and asked them (supposedly willingly) to share their data with them. Since those private companies have full access and full ownership of whatever data you use on their network, they agreed (I am sure for some sweet deals like no pursuit of anti monopolies laws and free and total access on all the tax payer owned airways signals). ATT and Verizon and Yahoo said yes, Google said not without court orders...

So There was no law broken it was voluntary. Which points to a bigger problem than sharing your data...this is a collusion of corporation with Government...there is another word of that... it is called fascism, and until the repeal of Patriot ACt I and II and some sort of separation of content providers and IP providers we are at the mercy of this ever growing collusion.

BTW there is no such a thing as Private Digital Data, unless you own your own IP provider and cell phone company.

Diving Mullah
 

Lutherf

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No, collecting that information is not like breaking into your house and taking items of yours. I understand why many people see their internet communications as being similar to mailing a letter (which is protected under the constitution), but in reality it is more like broadcasting your message on a radio frequency. Anyone with the right equipment and know how could intercept your transmission.

This doesn't mean that it's a good idea to allow the govt to collect this info. I'm just saying that IMO, it doesn't raise constitutional issues.
I'd agree with that as far as google searches and postings on internet forums go but I'd suggest that with phone calls and emails we DO have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The basis behind the legality of this type of data collection is that since the sender is using third party services then they no longer have the right to privacy. The problem with that is, as you have mentioned, the same rules don't apply to postmarked material so I believe it's a VERY flawed ruling.

I can think of no legitimate reason for the federal government to collect all this data. I can see such data retention by the service provider to be a function of licensing but the government should have to provide a valid warrant for ANY personal information it collects that the warrant should be provided to the suspect. I can see where, in VERY rare occasions, a warrantless collection could be made but, just like waterboarding, there had better be a damned good reason for doing so.
 

calamity

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The government makes the claim that it is legitimate Constitutionally for them to collect my private information (phone records, e-mails, google searches, etc) without specific reasonable cause against me. They then assure me that they won't actually comb through that private information without specific reasonable cause to do so.

It is rather like the FBI breaking down your door, running into your house and taking several items, but doing so with their eyes closed and saying "we don't actually see what it is we're taking so it's legal."

So my question is:

Isn't the taking of my private digital information when the violation of my privacy occurs, not when the government claims to "look" at it?

After all, how can any of us know if and when the government actually looks at the information they collect--when they secretly collect it, obtain the warrant through secret courts, and require our elected representatives to keep these programs secret?

Isn't that plainly anti-democratic, and in principle Unconstitutional?

If you're emailing people in Pakistan, Yemen and God knows where else Jihad freaks call home, or if you use a series of routers specifically designed to hide where you send your emails and receive your cell calls, I think the NSA better go through your files with a fine tooth comb. And, no. Its not anti-democratic nor unconstitutional.
 

sangha

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I'd agree with that as far as google searches and postings on internet forums go but I'd suggest that with phone calls and emails we DO have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The basis behind the legality of this type of data collection is that since the sender is using third party services then they no longer have the right to privacy. The problem with that is, as you have mentioned, the same rules don't apply to postmarked material so I believe it's a VERY flawed ruling.

I can think of no legitimate reason for the federal government to collect all this data. I can see such data retention by the service provider to be a function of licensing but the government should have to provide a valid warrant for ANY personal information it collects that the warrant should be provided to the suspect. I can see where, in VERY rare occasions, a warrantless collection could be made but, just like waterboarding, there had better be a damned good reason for doing so.
The phone info about what # is calling what # is similar to the PO noting mail going from one address to another without examining the contents of the letter.

IMO, there are legitimate reasons to collect such data. However, the benefits of doing so must be weighed against the dangers associated with giving the govt such a powerful tool.
 

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The phone info about what # is calling what # is similar to the PO noting mail going from one address to another without examining the contents of the letter.

IMO, there are legitimate reasons to collect such data. However, the benefits of doing so must be weighed against the dangers associated with giving the govt such a powerful tool.
Yeah, it isn't so much that the data is being collected that bugs me. It's more about WHO is doing the collecting. If Verizon collects my data then they can use that for a limited amount of stuff....adjusting rates based on usage or offering deals for frequently called contacts. That doesn't bug me. Google can collect my search data and send me ads reflecting stuff I might be interested in. That doesn't bug me. The grocery store kicks out coupons based on what I buy and I'm good with that. But if Google, Verizon and the grocery store link up and I start getting coupons for stuff my frequent caller contacts might be interested in then I would start to get a little freaked out. It isn't the grocery store's business what I search for on the internet and google doesn't have any business checking on who I'm calling.

The problem I have is that when it's the government that has all this data then they can start putting more and more stuff together that just plain isn't their business. They already have tons of information on me that I (and others) send them every April 15th and now they want even more. I have a really, really big problem with that because there just isn't any justification for WHY they want it.....unless they suspect me of wrongdoing and when the government starts suspecting the citizenry the citizenry has an OBLIGATION to get pissed off and do something about that government.
 

sangha

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Yeah, it isn't so much that the data is being collected that bugs me. It's more about WHO is doing the collecting. If Verizon collects my data then they can use that for a limited amount of stuff....adjusting rates based on usage or offering deals for frequently called contacts. That doesn't bug me. Google can collect my search data and send me ads reflecting stuff I might be interested in. That doesn't bug me. The grocery store kicks out coupons based on what I buy and I'm good with that. But if Google, Verizon and the grocery store link up and I start getting coupons for stuff my frequent caller contacts might be interested in then I would start to get a little freaked out. It isn't the grocery store's business what I search for on the internet and google doesn't have any business checking on who I'm calling.

The problem I have is that when it's the government that has all this data then they can start putting more and more stuff together that just plain isn't their business. They already have tons of information on me that I (and others) send them every April 15th and now they want even more. I have a really, really big problem with that because there just isn't any justification for WHY they want it.....unless they suspect me of wrongdoing and when the government starts suspecting the citizenry the citizenry has an OBLIGATION to get pissed off and do something about that government.
Yes, who is collecting the data is important, but I also object to the amount of data being collected by corporations. IMO, it won't be long before things like credit, employment, housing etc are all decided on the basis of intrusive profiling by corporate entities who do not have our best interests in mind
 

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Yes, who is collecting the data is important, but I also object to the amount of data being collected by corporations. IMO, it won't be long before things like credit, employment, housing etc are all decided on the basis of intrusive profiling by corporate entities who do not have our best interests in mind
I can understand that but at least I have a choice between what corporations I can deal with. I don't get that same choice with the government.
 

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I can understand that but at least I have a choice between what corporations I can deal with. I don't get that same choice with the government.
I forsee a day when you won't have such a choice because some corporations will refuse to deal with you based on your web-browsing history.

And you don't get to decide what your credit rating is, or what criteria the credit rating agencies use to calculate your rating. You don't even get to know what their criteria is. You just have to live with their decisions.
 

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I forsee a day when you won't have such a choice because some corporations will refuse to deal with you based on your web-browsing history.

And you don't get to decide what your credit rating is, or what criteria the credit rating agencies use to calculate your rating. You don't even get to know what their criteria is. You just have to live with their decisions.
As long as we maintain a basic semblance of Capitalism there will always be corporations to deal with.

As far as credit ratings go, you have to deal with the data they have but you can contest stuff on your report. Your control is limited and unpleasant to deal with but it isn't non-existent.
 
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