The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

Our government has been busy listening to personal telephone communications. While the President claims we are targeting international phone calls, there is really nothing to prevent the government from arbitrarily tapping conversations of citizens domestically.

This kind of evesdropping presents a very difficult privacy problem. Imagine if every phone conversation is audited using a computer, and voice pattern recognition software determines if the conversation is suspicious. Once a phone call has been flagged, it is destined for an NSA operative to review. Conversely, when the conversation is first discerned there is no human auditor and in fact the conversation itself will only be recorded if the machine observes an immanent threat. Maybe this isn’t really spying?

In fact it is. Once your privacy has been breached in this fashion you are no longer protected by the Constitution. While it might be humorous for Sandip Roy to joke about the government secretly listening to phone calls home to his mother in India, it isn’t far fetched that a few degrees of separation will have NSA operatives listening to your phone calls.

Imagine if you express a casual greeting to a known terrorist while exiting a local shopping plaza. Should you now be considered a person of interest? This is no different from the Salem Witch Trials or the hunt for Communists perpetrated by McCarthyism. You would think we should know better but it appears our improved technologies can now be used to further validate our irrational fears.

Categories: Privacy