The whole point of the massive NSA datacenter in Utah is that they collect _everything_. The argument from the NSA and Federal Government was that they would only look at data where they had a warrant. Our argument back was that there is no way to ensure data is only viewed by warrant, especially when they were looking at ways of cataloguing data they could see, and trying to crack encryption on what they could not.
We were right, they were dishonest. Nothing new in terms of Government abusing power, and nobody should be surprised that the more we give them the more they abuse.
Since the hardware is already in place to copy all traffic to the NSA, law changes which impact collection of data would have to tackle that particular issue. Good luck with that. ISPs and Telecom providers get paid massive tax dollars to provide the service, so you know that they won't complain.
Well said. I would just add that beyond the practical privacy concerns of people actually snooping on other people for illegitimate purposes there is an important principle of constitutional law that the government is required to have a specific warrant to perform a search. And that making copies of data and in fact scanning that data in the first place to see if it is relevant to a variety of ongoing surveillance activities is itself a search.
It isn't merely the potential for search of the data without warrant after the government has collected it that is the issue. In fact if the data was legally collected and the government has it, then why shouldn't it be available for any legitimate investigation? Any legally collected data should be available to investigators. The problem is that it isn't legally collected data.
If it were just a practical privacy issue then you are already exposed to numerous companies that are collecting, analyzing, storing your communications for a variety of purposes that you might not want to specifically agree to, but might be somehow covered in a customer agreement.
The other big thing that I see as unconstitutional is that the government is effectively not allowing companies the option of an enforceable contract with their customers that it will require a specific warrant to divulge their communications to the government. The big telecoms got that as legal cover, but also to head off competitor companies marketing privacy as something they could legally deliver.
In the US, at least, privacy in your communications against unconstitutionally broad government surveillance isn't an option companies can even offer their customers and business partners because the agreement is made legally unenforceable with no opportunity to seek damages for contract violations against telecom providers under the Patriot Act. I should be allowed to provide customers with a privacy agreement in return for compensation that if I violate it would allow them to seek damages in court.
So the government is unconstitutionally interfering in what should be a lawful privacy contract between telecoms and their customers and business partners.