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Court Ruling Allows Government to Snoop Without Warrant
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 20 July 2007 12:38

 And thus we undo 400 years of American progress because we fear our way of life can no longer protect us...and we no longer trust in justice... a shameful moment in our journey.

 Court Ruling Allows Government to Snoop Without Warrant
Michael Hoffman (Blog) - July 18, 2007 7:15 PM Daily Tech

 A controversial court ruling has attorneys and groups like the EFF up in arms
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently issued a ruling that effectively allows the federal government to monitor a suspect's phone activity and Internet activity without receiving a search warrant. The court's decision allows the use of "pen registers" -- an electronic device able to record all telephone numbers dialed from a landline -- without a warrant.

The three-judge panel agreed computer users should be aware they could potentially lose privacy when using the Internet.

Ars Technica used an interesting analogy for the government's stance on the issue. It's the same as the "U.S. Postal Service, where anyone can read information on the outside of an envelope but can't look at the contents."

In a controversial case in 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that since phone users dialed phone numbers which are handled by phone companies -- considered a third party -- and because authorities only used a pen dialer to gather the phone calls made, not what was said in the conversations.

The judge's decision has received mixed reactions from attorneys and citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believe the Court of Appeals gave U.S. law enforcement a surveillance tool which can be used with little regard to check or balances.

Michael Crowley, defense attorney for Dennis Alba, who was convicted of operating a drug lab responsible for making ecstasy, disagreed with the court's ruling. Police and federal investigators began monitoring Alba's Internet and e-mails in May in 2001 and then later received a search warrant.. More

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