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Government seeks to redefine privacy

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071111/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/terrorist_surveillance Government seeks to redefine privacy By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer 1
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071111/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/terrorist_surveillance

      Government seeks to redefine privacy

      By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 53
      minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - A top intelligence official says it is
      time people in the United States changed their
      definition of privacy.

      Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald
      Kerr, a deputy director of national intelligence.
      Instead, it should mean that government and businesses
      properly safeguards people's private communications
      and financial information.

      Kerr's comments come as Congress is taking a second
      look at the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act.

      Lawmakers hastily changed the 1978 law last summer to
      allow the government to eavesdrop inside the United
      States without court permission, so long as one end of
      the conversation was reasonably believed to be located
      outside the U.S.

      The original law required a court order for any
      surveillance conducted on U.S. soil, to protect
      Americans' privacy. The White House argued that the
      law was obstructing intelligence gathering.

      The most contentious issue in the new legislation is
      whether to shield telecommunications companies from
      civil lawsuits for allegedly giving the government
      access to people's private e-mails and phone calls
      without a court order between 2001 and 2007.

      Some lawmakers, including members of the Senate
      Judiciary Committee, appear reluctant to grant
      immunity. Suits might be the only way to determine how
      far the government has burrowed into people's privacy
      without court permission.

      The committee is expected to decide this week whether
      its version of the bill will protect
      telecommunications companies.

      The central witness in a California lawsuit against
      AT&T says the government is vacuuming up billions of
      e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T
      switching station in San Francisco.

      Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, helped connect
      a device in 2003 that he says diverted and copied onto
      a government supercomputer every call, e-mail, and
      Internet site access on AT&T lines.
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