November 14, 2013 | By Kurt Opsahl

Generate Your Own Universal Surveillance Justification

The government has invented a bold set of universal talking points, which can be used to justify any invasive surveillance program. The NSA review group has provided a secret interim report to the White House with recommendations for dealing with NSA surveillance excesses; the public release is expected in about a month. What can we expect from the report? Rumor has it that it will conclude there is no "workable" way to scale back invasive surveillance programs.

The administration has already started its justifications, making public statements focused solely on effectiveness, without acknowledging that other critical values are in danger—most importantly, our Constitutional and human rights.

When effectiveness is the only value at play, even the most invasive warrantless programs can be justified. Cameras in the bedroom? House-to-house searches? Cavity searches by the TSA? In each case, the government could argue that it would get less information and be less effective without them.

We even wrote a script to showcase how easy it is to write such a statement for an arbitrary invasive program.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

This week's @PlanetMoney podcast explores the shocking levels of secrecy around trade deals like TPP https://eff.org/r.aas6

Jun 30 @ 4:49pm

Secret FISA Court gives the NSA a temporary extension on spying on our phone records: https://eff.org/r.yqa3

Jun 30 @ 4:37pm

Here’s how Computerworld covered EFF’s birth 25 years ago https://eff.org/r.a34f

Jun 30 @ 1:28pm
JavaScript license information