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Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the raise-your-hand-if-you're-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."
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Privacy Oversight Board Gives NSA Surveillance a Pass

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  • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @07:30PM (#47372849)

    Wait, what? All of a sudden we've decided that violating rights is OK if it makes us more secure? When did we decide that? I don't remember any court decisions that said "well, it's unconstitutional, sure, but it's OK because..."

    It has been going on, slowly but surely, bit by bit, for decades. In 1990 the Supreme Court ruled that police sobriety roadblocks obviously violated the Constitution, but that the "safety" they provide overrides that violation.

    The excuse Chief Justice Rehnquist gave in his majority opinion was that while being stopped at a checkpoint did count as "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment, it is only a "slight" intrusion which must be weighted against the importance of preventing drunk driving and the effectiveness of the roadblocks and therefore not a true violation of our Constitutional rights.

    In his dissenting opinion, Justice Brennan wrote, "The most disturbing aspect of the Court's decision today is that it appears to give no weight to the citizen's interest in freedom from suspicionless investigatory seizures."

    [[http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=496&invol=444]]

  • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeIlomizer (3670951) on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @10:36PM (#47373639)

    Except when you start taking into account the spirit of the constitution. Then this NSA nonsense is screwed. Any judge who says otherwise is complicit in the crimes against the American people, and many of them have been exactly that. There are no excuses, including 'ambiguity.'

    Courts have also ruled that the right to free speech (or rather the right to be free from governmental restraint on speech) can be balanced against other competing factors, including those that arise from the "necessary and proper" clause of Article 1: Congress can pass laws that abridge speech when it is necessary and proper to their function, such as criminalizing libel, or attempts to incite panic or criminal behavior (the canonical shouting "fire").

    Then they're freedom-hating scumbags, to put it simply.

  • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2014 @12:01AM (#47373873)

    > They gave him the Nobel prize for being black, I mean for promoting peace before he even did anything.

    They gave it to him for not being Bush. That's how unhappy non-americans were with how Bush handled international affairs.
    Obama should have turned it down. But that's a hard thing to do. Especially given that turning it down would have made a lot of people feel insulted.

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