TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Re: Public Wants Court to Okay Wiretaps

Scott Dorsey (
10 Jan 2006 09:54:02 -0500

Mark Crispin <mrc@CAC.Washington.EDU> wrote:

> Were the calls that were eavesdropped of US citizens? Or were they of
> non-citizens who happened to be in the US? The reports that I heard
> indicated that it was the latter.

And, how can the person eavesdropping tell? An old friend of mine
retains his British citizenship even though he's been in the US since
the mid-sixties. However, his children have American citizenship and
they use his phone sometimes.

Sometimes I'll be with a friend and he'll be talking on the phone, and
hand it to me to say a few words. He may not be a citizen, but I am.

You can't always be assured that the person using a given line is a
non-citizen. And the constitution protects people, not telephone

> I don't see why a non-citizen should expect the right to privacy of
> communications in the US if that non-citizen falls under suspicion of
> terrorism.

Because first of all, there is a nonzero chance of a citizen's right
to privacy being infringed inadvertently in the process, and secondly
the difficulty in going through proper procedure to get court approval
is minimal.

> You can bet that outside the US, the phones of anyone suspected of
> terrorist ties are tapped, EU regulations or not. In some cases, the
> bureaucracy conceals it, and it's a crime for the press to reveal what
> the bureaucracy has concealed.

There are many countries where this would be a huge scandal. If you
think Americans are protective of privacy, you should see the Swedes.
On the other hand, there are other countries where nobody would think
twice about it. Because all countries are different and people have
different cultural expectations and different perceptions of rights,
we can't necessarily use them as examples.

> In other cases (e.g., Canada), the very document that states all these
> wonderful rights gives the government the power to abridge them
> whenever it thinks it's necessary. Don't believe me? Read Canada's
>" Charter of Rights and Freedoms", and note the "notwithstanding"
> clauses (in particular section 33):

Yes, I think this is a bad thing. But I'm not Canadian.


"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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