Obama: NSA Will Keep Gathering All Your Communications, But Will Need Court To Approve Accessing It


President Obama is giving his big address to the nation on changes to the NSA’s data collection on American and international communications, and what he’s proposing doesn’t sound very comforting for those concerned with privacy:

President Obama will call Friday for ending the National Security Agency’s ability to store phone data from millions of Americans. Instead, he will ask Congress and the Justice Department who should hold these records, according to White House sources. …

The president is expected to announce that the phone records program will be changed immediately “so that a judicial finding is required before we query the database,” according to a senior administration official.

The official said Obama will not say who should ultimately hold the data. Instead he will call on the intelligence community and Congress Friday to consult on where it should be maintained.

So we’ll all still be spied on. Our communications and other private data will still be collected and stored by the government under President Obama’s proposal, just by another one of the government’s alphabet soup of agencies that’s not the NSA. And the government can still access the data, as long as a judge signs off in what would undoubtedly be a secret sort of ruling.

Keep in mind, the 4th amendment protects Americans against “unreasonable search and seizure.” You have to ask, is the government scooping up and warehousing communications for every American – even officials like members of Congress – on the off chance that a judge might sign off on accessing it as a part of some investigation all that reasonable?

Shouldn’t, at the very least, there be probable cause to justify this sort of surveillance? What Obama is saying is that we should all be under surveillance, all the time, but they’ll only use the information if they decide they need to and a judge agrees (assuming we can trust that our data will be stored securely, and not abused by the government agencies responsible for it.

That this is coming from an administration that used the IRS to attack its political enemies shouldn’t be lost on us.

I think the NSA needs to stop collecting this data. Period. Though I’m not sure that’s toothpaste we can put back in the tube.