Crissie Brown of PoliticusUSA said that although the government surveillance alarms some, Americans wouldn't realistically give up the conveniences of cell phones and the internet:
[T]o judge by the media response, I should be up in arms. It turns out Orwell was right after all: Big Brother really is watching me.
Except Orwell was wrong. "Big Brother" isn't listening to my calls or reading my texts. That would require a separate warrant, and not one from a FISA court, because FISA only covers foreign intelligence cases. Yes, if the FBI or another law enforcement agency had evidence that led them to suspect I was involved in a crime, they could subpoena my phone records or ask a court for a wiretap warrant … just as they could have before FISA or the PATRIOT Act were passed.
But "Big Brother," it turns out, is compiling meta-data that I don't even care enough about to review on my phone bill. And they can't even sift through that data without a separate warrant, based on specific evidence.
Maybe I'm not afraid enough. Or maybe it's time to move beyond George Orwell and recognize that the many of the modern conveniences we enjoy exist because we leave electronic footprints everywhere we go. Without those footprints, we wouldn't have those conveniences or we'd have to pay a lot more for them … and law enforcement agencies would find it harder to conduct legitimate investigations.
Tim Worstall of Forbes said he doesn't object to the government's collection of such data, and would be more concerned if the government were not conducting such programs:
Take a step back for a moment. The purpose of the State, the first job it is tasked with, is the protection of that State from external enemies. This is the first principle of even having a State in the first place: to make sure that the populace is protected from the depredations of the foreigners who would do them harm. So the idea that the spies would be attempting to look at the telecoms data of said foreigners shouldn't really surprise us. Indeed, this is something we actually want said State to be doing: this is rather the purpose of having both it and the spies it employs.
The matter is entirely different when such a State uses the same methods to look at its own citizens: this is a gross abuse of power and a serious threat to any form of liberty or freedom. Which is why there are legal protections against it in most free and liberal states. And as we can see with PRISM those safeguards are in place. Data on US citizens or residents might be collected but only as a by-product of collecting it on those foreigners. Who do not have any of those legal or constitutional protections.
- Read Brian Walsh: Obama Proves Bush Was Right About Data Collection and Security
- Read Susan Milligan: Americans Should Blame Congress, Not Obama, for Phone Data Collection
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad