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Congress examines Surveilance Act

According to CNN:

Intelligence deputy, Donald Kerr said that privacy no longer can mean anonymity.

Kerr, who is the principal deputy director of national intelligence, said that it should mean that the government and businesses are properly safeguarding people’s private communications and financial information.

Kerr’s warnings come as Congress examines the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The 1978 law was hastily changed last summer to allow the government to eavesdrop within the U.S. on phone calls without court permission, as long as there was reason to believe that one of the parties were located outside of the U.S.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to decide this week whether the updated Surveillance Act will protect telecommunications companies or not.

There are about 40 wiretap suits pending. A central witness in a California lawsuit against AT&T said that the government is vacuuming up billions of e-mails and phone calls as they pass through an AT&T switching station located in San Francisco.

“Anonymity has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms,? said Kurt Opsahl senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that defends online free speech, privacy and intellectual property rights.

Opsahl continued, “The government has tremendous power: the police power, the ability to arrest, to detain, to take away rights. Tying together that someone has spoken out on an issue with their identity is a far more dangerous thing if it is the government that is trying to tie it together.?