Today U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled on the NSA’s surveillance program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States stating it violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Really? I’m shocked. Judge Leon stated that “[he]cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval”.
Politco reported that the judge was ruling on a “lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting so-called metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients”.
I’m not going to claim to understand much of what the legal terms mean and Aidan will do a more technical and in depth article about this later. But in all honesty when I read that my first thought was “duh”. Because didn’t we all know that it was illegal for the government to listen in to our phone calls? Didn’t we know that it should weird us out that the NSA collects data from our phones and emails and other correspondence? Didn’t it occur to us that every time we ask questions the NSA claims “National Security” and we pipe down?
I think we did know, and it did weird us out, and it did occur to us but I don’t think we cared as much as Edward Snowden thought we would. I remember when the story first broke on of my friends posted on Facebook “the best part of having Verizon is I can pick up my phone and talk to the President”, it was a joke, all of it. We believed the government was collecting data on it’s citizens, and we didn’t care. Lots of people I talk to say something to the effect of “why would I care, I don’t have anything to hide”. And it’s a logical argument, but it is so very flawed.
It is logical to feel like you have nothing to hide if you aren’t doing anything wrong, but the point is that we are guaranteed an expectation of privacy in our constitution and if that privacy is invaded there is supposed to be lawful protections in place to make sure the invasion is necessary and controlled. So it didn’t surprise me that a judge ruled the surveillance was unlawful and it shouldn’t surprise you either.