A significant group of American scholars, authors and experts in Constitutional Law has put their verdict forward with respect to the recentbeing implemented by the NSA. Multiple accounts of intrusion into privacy and tracking sensitive personal data by collaborating with internet giants and tech companies have landed the NSA in deep water.
It is not with official consent that the public came to know about these surveillance programs, and the Government is doing everything in its power to bring the whistle-blowers to justice. All the warrants required for such kind of data surveillance was approved by the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by presiding with the Government alone. Usually such warrants that violate the constitutional rights of citizens required counsel between the representatives of all the parties involved, but the courts have chosen to overrule this aspect while granting warrants to mine data from Companies without consent.
But why? Isn’t protecting the integrity of the people the utmost priority for the Government? The most recent revelation and in-depth study into the effects of the PRISM program on the constitution was made by Randy Barnett, a professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University, who can be considered as a fairly qualified expert in this field owing to his book “Restoring The Lost Constitution: The Presumption Of Liberty”. According to Mr. Barnett, the PRISM program can be deemed to be unconstitutional on multiple accounts.
Mr. Barnett goes on to explain the fundamentals of the Constitution and the importance of the 4th as well as the 5th amendment to the US Constitution. While touching on the brief history of the significance of the 4th amendment, he states that the founding fathers of the Constitution didn’t trust the Judges enough to “jealously guard the liberties of the people” and wanted juries of citizens to have a say in issuing of warrants for search and seizure of properties.
Therefore, initially all law enforcement were susceptible to civil lawsuits in the event there was a breach in the law or unconstitutional approach by any law enforcement agency, immaterial of their power and authority. But now, the focus has shifted to offer more power to these Government agencies and to offer immunity to all authoritative personnel and their supporting agencies to perform search and seizure of personal properties with “blanket order” warrants.
The virtual platform has its obscurities when it comes to law, but what the NSA has failed to recognize is the critical relationship between a part of the 4th amendment “the right to secure papers against unreasonable searches and seizures without proper warrants” and the “informational privacy” that plays a vital role in the modern virtual world. As it was difficult to obtain warrant for each citizen, the PRISM program has chosen to search and seize data from the source, which made all the major communication companies as well as tech companies a prime target of “blanket order” warrants.
Under these warrants, the NSA went after the source by displaying probable warrants and tracking private information by intercepting messages, files, voice calls and emails. What made the situation worse was the secrecy with which the entire surveillance program was carried out. Mr. Barnett explains that the Government is a servant to the people, and not the other way around. Therefore, it is the duty of the Government to get consent from the public before initiating any “search and seizure” activities that violates the Constitutional rights of the citizens.
He also went on the explain that it is worrying that the Government has chosen to remain silent about the PRISM program controversy, and has not offered any proper explanation other than the 1979 Supreme Court ruling, the “third party doctrine” to justify their actions. Apart from Constitutional scholars, several large companies are also coming to the fore demanding more clarity in terms of the involvement of the companies in the PRISM program and to make warrants public without issuing “blanket orders” away from the public’s eye.