TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The Balance Between National Security and Privacy?

Re: The Balance Between National Security and Privacy?

George Berger (
Fri, 12 May 2006 20:40:39 -0400

In article <>,

> I am curious as to what people think of the issue of national security
> vs. privacy in light of the recent revelations.

> In the railroad and roads newsgroups, there was a discussion on the
> issue of the rights of photographers to take pictures of public works
> vs. the need for security of those works against terrorists. Some
> facilities (highway toll roads, transit agencies) do not allow
> photography from public safe locations which traditionally was a
> absolute right.

> I myself aren't sure. I don't agree with either extremes--the govt
> must have some limitations on citizen spying and we must preserve our
> long existing rights, but the govt does need the power and ability to
> spy on potential terrorists to protect us.

> [public replies please].

The telephone companies keep records on telephone contacts (which number
called which number) without going into the substance of the
conversations. It's a "Point A to Point B" record. Is this "spying" by
the telcoms? No. Millions of records are kept, probably without either
your specific permission or knowledge that they keep every contact you
make, or is made to you.

NSA uses this Point A to Point B calling information to detect
patterns in communications, without knowing the substance of the
conversations -- or even who the individual was on either end of the
link. Is this "spying?" I think not.

The other piece of the question pertains to direct interception of
calls between known foreign agents or terrorists and individuals
within the US boundaries who may -- or may not -- be US citizens.
Substance of the conversations IS of interest. "Spying?" Call it what
you will. Further, not all US citizens are straightforward and
trustworthy individuals. There are a few bad apples.


I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am
not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
-- Robert McCloskey, State Department spokesman (attributed)

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