The surveillance quagmire
The PRISM program is the latest of many surveillance programs to come to light as problematic. As technology advances (as it has from snail mail to telegraph to radio to telephone...) there will be advances in surveillance and these will be met by probably undue trust by private citizens. Incidents of what have later been determined as unconstitutional breaches of privacy are not hard to find.
The other programs like MAINWAY, Fairview, STELLARWIND and others back to ECHELON have used computers to correlate information gathered by various means. Wullenweber antenna arrays are spread over the globe and information from Snowden has revealed that telecoms provide info directly to the government.
The growing technology that makes easier the task of correlation of metadata such as call records and some details of text/email content with other data possibly including visual surveillance (maybe involving the NRO) begs for oversight with published understandable standards.
Not to go deep into conspiracy land here but there is a history of government surveillance programs by agencies with black budgets that weren't even acknowledged as existing.
Are new laws clarifying the 4th Amendment needed?
If so, what restrictions are reasonable?
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but I wouldn't want to have it happen in the present political environment, where, from the Supreme Court to the White House, there are no friends of civil liberty to stand up for its provisions.
The 1st has been twisted beyond recognition by a succession of rulings from Kennedy/Valeo to Citizens United so that it has become a plaything and privilege of the wealthy.
The 4th has been virtually destroyed by a series of events beginning with no-knock drug laws to the NSA's new Vatican in the Desert.
Things will not be made better if we give them an excuse to throw the whole mess out (except for the Second, of course) in one overarching shot.
The 4th vs the drug war just seems like such no-brainer of a problem. Why are issues like this and surveillance so polarizing?
This requirement decided applicability to current search warrants.
The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.
But while that specific program has ended, additional secret NSA documents seen by the Guardian show that some collection of Americans' online records continues today. In December 2012, for example, the NSA launched one new program allowing it to analyze communications with one end inside the US, leading to a doubling of the amount of data passing through its filters.
In reality, it is hard to distinguish email metadata from email content. Distinctions that might make sense for telephone conversations and data about those conversations do not always hold for online communications.