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October 25, 2014
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editorial

Dragnet: spying in the digital age


It might surprise you to know that the word privacy does not even appear in the Constitution, yet the genius of that founding document is that it recognized and was designed to protect our “natural rights” as fundamental principles on which our country was established, and these natural rights are universal and timeless. Over the years, the right to privacy gained legal protection, including from the Supreme Court, which in various cases derived the right of privacy from the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments.

Today, with privacy under attack, facilitated by advances in technology that have outpaced legal and societal conventions, the Constitution can still be a tool to defend privacy. Yet resolving this matter should not be left to the courts alone; new statutory protections are needed that create genuinely meaningful oversight and accountability of America’s intelligence and security apparatus appropriate to the digital age.

The wisdom of reining in the NSA, which already has established this apparatus allowing it to spy on almost anyone, seems obvious to us. Finally, there is always the risk of the ultimate danger of unrestricted government spying, namely, that in the wrong hands this power could all too easily be used to create a police state. If you think not, we ask you to consider reading Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-four.”