I still maintain there should be no such thing as a warrantless search. They call it surveillance, but that’s not an accurate term. Surveillance can be done passively, with coffee and doughnut in hand while your partner sleeps in the seat next to you. What the FBI and NSA do actually requires more than just looking. It requires that information you don’t intend to share with the world be gathered up and gone through. The excuse is that you turn it over to the phone company so it’s not your information anymore and that you have no expectation of privacy over that information. That’s the important bit. If you do, then they need a warrant for the information.
When you walk down the street and go to a store, if a cop sees you, he doesn’t need a warrant, he’s just seeing what anyone else could see. The same is true if you go to a friend’s house. If you go in the store, he can follow you, if you go into the friend’s house, he cannot. So the logic used is that your information is being viewed on a virtual “sidewalk” or in a virtual “store”.
I am of the school of thought that believes the Constitution was designed to protect citizens’ rights and to limit the government. So I ascribe the warrant school of the 4th amendment and not the reasonableness school because the former puts the burden on the government. I think that’s as it should be. We can argue safety all we want but we have to understand the only purpose of safety is so we can enjoy our rights. If the effort to provide that safety violates our rights then the safety is worthless.
According to a paper by Blake C. Norvell in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology, “…reasonableness of the program can accurately be accessed if one knows two key pieces of information: (1) the level of intrusiveness upon citizens and (2) the number of suspects apprehended by the program. It is clear that the expansive model of the program is highly invasive upon privacy rights. Thus, if the success rate of the program can be determined, so can the critical question of whether the program is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” (2009, Volume 11, Article 8, Issue 1)
If the program is, and has been, inefficient, then even the argument that it’s reasonableness should allow it is thrown out the window. Which, in my opinion, is why Comey didn’t act on the information. I am thinking this is another example of the government knowing that it is doing wrong, working poorly, and hiding it from the people. If the government doesn’t function then people will understand that they don’t need the government. They will come up with the startling realization that they can manage 99.9% of their lives all on their own or with the help of their immediate community.
Retired Special Agent Bassem Youssef, the chief of the FBI’s Communications Analysis Unit, said in an exclusive interview with The Hill that no action was taken by Comey in response to the concerns he raised.He said his efforts were prompted by an audit his team conducted showing the program had searched through thousands of Americans’ records but had helped only disrupt one possible terrorist plot over more than a decade.