Fourth Amendment

Obama Pushes for Increased Electronic Surveillance Powers

Snoopy

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President Obama gave an influential speech on counter terrorism and national security policy last week, and while much of the media coverage discussed the President remarks on Guantanamo prison and drone strikes, buried in the speech was a line just as critical to civil liberties online.

Half way through the speech, Obama said he wanted to "review[] the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse."

We certainly agree with the president we need new privacy protections for our digital communications, and it's encouraging to hear him suggest support for such proposals. After all, we know the vast surveillance authorities given to law enforcement over the last decade'—like the Patriot Act, FISA Amendments Act, and National Security Letters—have been serially abused. Unfortunately, President Obama has actively defended these laws and policies in Congress and the courts, despite promising to reform them as a candidate.