re: NSA PRISM Creates Stir, But Appears Legal
I agree entirely with the other commenters that legality is completely irrelevant when the laws themselves are overreaching. In the US it should be judged by its constitutionality, while in the rest of the world it should be condemned in the harshest language.
The 4th amendment to the US Constitution states:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Sometimes the definition of the word "search" is called into question, but there is plenty of precedent for that. The so-called Katz Standard defines a search in this context as occurring when:
1) a person expects privacy in the thing being searched [as I do in my phone, email and other non-public data exchanges]
2) society believes that expectation is reasonable [which is evident by the public outcry].
So how can PRISM and the phone record surveillance programs be constitutional?
Additionally the whole affair drastically weakens the USA's right to condemn other nations regarding privacy, intellectual property theft, human rights and related issues. How does the US now speak to China about the PLA's unit 61398? But then, how does the US combat international computer crime while (reportedly)working with Israel to develop and distribute Stuxnet and related malware into other nations? Can the States decry human rights abuses in Myanmar while failing to close Guantanamo? I know I'm not comparing apples to apples in these examples, but each one weakens America's right to be an international role model and demonstrates a deeply worrying trend away from its very own constitutionality.
Now is the time for the American public and the larger International community to read the documents of the US Founding Fathers (they're not long), understand their intent and get vocal about changing things for the better!
Gavin, CISSP, SSCP, CEH