Privacy v Homeland Security

A federal judge in Oregon recently affirmed the authority of United States Government’s to conduct mass, or “bulk” data collection under FISA.  It is the first case brought after the fire-storm caused by Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive government spying made international news.  The case involved a man convicted of planning a terrorist bombing at the Portland Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in 2010. The conviction was based, in part, on emails that were found on his computer.  In short, the Oregon judge ruled that the government has the authority to spy on foreign nationals, including any communications with United States citizens, without having to use the normal channels of judicial intervention and the procedures/safeguards that go along with it.

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The Fourth Amendment Lives On

The United States Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated and carefully watched opinion today, one that affirms the privacy rights of every person in this country who may happen to come into contact with law enforcement.  In Riley v. California, the Court ruled that a police officer may not search a persons cell phone following arrest without first obtaining a search warrant.  The decision didn’t exactly send shockwaves throughout the judicial system.  However, for those of us familiar with the Supreme Court, and its propensity to chip away at our personal privacy rights , as well as its clear ideological divide, it was surprising that the Court ruled for the defendant on a 9-0 vote. Read more