Thursday, February 23, 2006

Internet surveillance, reporting, and the impact on the public

The Center for Democracy and Technology (website) released a report this month that calls for modernization of privacy laws to keep back the tide of government surveillance programs. (Link to report, here and popular news account, here). The internet news article (by Agence Free Presse) was headlined "Big Brother watching email, computer data." On the one hand, that idea is a (likely) possibility and could be supported by CDT's study. On the other hand, it's an alarmist catch-phrase with possible political motivations that doesn't capture the reality of justified surveillance.
I wonder how the public-at-large perceives these technological issues. Can entire opinions be formed based on reading an internet news headline as opposed to the article, or even the study the article is based on? I bet that is probably true. If this is so, does it follow that private sector news source headlines (and stories) can reduce expectations of privacy?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If this is so, does it follow that private sector news source headlines (and stories) can reduce expectations of privacy?"

I think the answer has to be yes. If they do reduce expectations of privacy, then Fourth Amendment protections in internet communications are reduced or they disappear completely (assuming they ever existed). This raises other questions. Should it matter about one person's expectation of privacy to establish the existence of a constitutional right to be protected from unreasonable searces? Is this subjective prong of the Katz test logical? In the end, this test takes away constitutional rights of the well-informed while leaving those rights intact for the ignorant? Even worse, the NSA or other agencies who want to run surveillance on many without the hassle of a warrant, need only to start doing so and the media will tell the world about this "illegal activity" thereby making it "legal" to all those that have heard because there now exists no expectation of privacy. I don't know about anyone else, but to me, this is just plain stupid.

12:18 PM  

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