Government Espionage and the 4th Amendment.

Essay by ScarabdracCollege, Undergraduate April 2003

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Government Espionage and the 4th Amendment

There has recently been a lot of discussion on the limits of privacy and the extent of public security. These discussions and recent government actions involving privacy have been created mainly from the aftermath of the September 11th disaster. You may or may not have heard about these recent infractions of privacy. The boosts in airport security and the increased use of racial profiling are examples of such. But what you may not have heard of is that these are nothing compared to what the government has already been doing. For years, the government of the United States of America has been using technology to spy on its citizens. These are chiefly the programs Echelon and Carnivore, two uses of technology that violate almost every clause of the 4th amendment and should be dealt with.

Shortly after the second world war, the governments of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand signed a secret agreement creating the project UKUSA (UK-USA).

This later became known as ECHELON, a code name assigned to it by the NSA. ECHELON monitors and analyzes all civilian communication over telephone lines, satellites, and radio waves. The program sifts through these scanning for certain words and phrases, and interesting phone calls are then examined and logged by a person.

This system was kept entirely secret, even from a couple of presidents and most of congress, until around 1988, when a political scandal exposed the NSA abusing this power. This situation is comparable to historical uses of a secret police. For example Hitler's Gestapo in Nazi Germany started out in a similar manner with the same intentions, to stop extreme societal dangers by performing espionage on the civilians they protected. Most people don't remember the Gestapo as such though,