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Volume 30, Issue 1

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Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:27

Privacy activists are cheering for the NSA ruling, but it won't be a lasting victory

Privacy is on trial in the United States. Legal activist Larry Klayman asked U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leonto require the NSA to stop collecting phone data and immediately delete the data they already have. Their argument was that US citizens have a right to privacy and this is a violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution protecting you from illegal search and seizure. Monday' ruling that this practice is unconstitutional has privacy activists cheering in the streets, but it will not be a lasting victory.

In the United States, there is not a single privacy law on the books. (You can argue that HIPAA is a privacy law, but nuances exists that can lessen its impact.) What is protected has come from judgments based on the application of the 4th Amendment regarding search and seizure. US citizens were given "privileges”, thanks to Richard Nixon, which say we have an expectation of privacy when using a phone, which basically means that the government has to get a warrant for a wiretap. (It’s worth noting that in the UK, they don’t get that privilege.)

Data is up for grabs. And everyone is grabbing.