There is no significant difference between the NSA “monitoring Americans’ porn use” and the NSA “watching porn all day and night.”
The Fourth Amendment obliges the government to demonstrate probable cause before conducting invasive surveillance. There is simply no precedent under the Constitution for the government’s seizing such vast amounts of revealing data on innocent Americans’ communications.
The government has made a mockery of that protection by relying on select Supreme Court cases, decided before the era of the public Internet and cellphones, to argue that citizens have no expectation of privacy in either phone metadata or in e-mails or other private electronic messages that it stores with third parties.
This hairsplitting is inimical to privacy and contrary to what at least five justices ruled just last year in a case called United States v. Jones. One of the most conservative justices on the Court, Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that where even public information about individuals is monitored over the long term, at some point, government crosses a line and must comply with the protections of the Fourth Amendment. That principle is, if anything, even more true for Americans’ sensitive nonpublic information like phone metadata and social networking activity.
We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the government’s professed concern with protecting Americans’ privacy. It’s time to call the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs what they are: criminal.
The government will only authorize us to communicate about these numbers in aggregate and as a range,” Ullyot said. “This is progress, but we’re continuing to push for even more transparency.”
In a statement, a Google spokesman said the deal that Facebook struck with the government was not sufficient.
“We have always believed that it’s important to differentiate between different types of government requests. We already publish criminal requests separately from National Security Letters. Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users,” he wrote. “Our request to the government is clear: to be able to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately.”
Google has gone to greater lengths than any other Web company to disclose the nature and number of government requests for information about its users through its semiannual “transparency report.”Facebook, Google, Microsoft and other technology giants have been pressing the Obama administration to allow them to publicly disclose more information about the national security requests they get under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA