(The surveillance turned up no evidence of any crime, so it would have stayed a secret if the FBI hadn't accidentally faxed surveillance records to al-Haramain rather than to someone more official.)
U.C. Berkeley Ph.D. candidate Stephen Rushin is collecting similar decisions and negative reactions from federal and state judges as part of a thesis concluding the increasingly efficient methods of surveillance of modern law enforcement agencies, the enormous volumes of private data they collect adn the lack of controls over what is collected and what is done with the information pose more than an inconvenience or minor threat to individuals.
It poses a critical threat to the foundation of individual freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
Except, law-enforcement officers don't go "fishing," for evidence, defenders of the Patriot Act and other rule-loosening policies claim.
Law enforcement agencies simply use the tools available to them to gather information in the same way they always did, by tracking individual suspects and observing their behavior. The only difference is that they have to observe behavior in the digital world as well as the physical.
Their investigations, law enforcement agencies say, are just as respectful of the Constitution and individual rights as ever.
Isn't 'Don't need permission' the same as 'Don't obey rules?'
Take this as a counter to pollyanna's version:
According to testimony by Gidari – who represented Google and other carriers and was arguing for clear rules under which carriers do or do not have to give up records – even the Department of Justice doesn't regularly report the number of "pen register orders" they file with carriers.
Pen registers are monitors that record all the outgoing calls from a phone; "trap and trace" monitors collect all the inbound calls.
Pen register orders typically last 60 days.
In two months, even a dedicated felon will call a large number of people completely uninvolved with any criminal activity, even if all he's doing is ordering pizza or calling MoviFone.
The FBI doesn't go on fishing expeditions; it boils the sea and collects what floats
Rather than sifting through those lists to verify who the theoretical felon is calling, investigators often just sent every phone number they get to every carrier they think might own it and ask for every record related to that number.