We have all read or heard about the telephone number collection and email collection by the government.. Most people’s reaction falls into one of two camps; one says “so what, I have nothing to hide”, the other says “good grief, the government is spying on me.”

The issue of the government spying on its citizens is nothing new. Forty years ago, the FBI was accused of a wide range of civil spying in the SDS and the Civil Rights movement. Okay, so what is legal?. The law is a balancing test of an individual’s right to privacy and what is a reasonable intrusion into a citizen’s privacy for the public good, such as capturing a criminal.

It is legal if the police snoop in windows around one’s house, if the window shades are up or afford a view inside the home. It is legal for the government to go through the trash you set out on your curb. For a long time, the government has been able to obtain from the telephone company a log of all the telephone numbers one calls. ( Perhaps that is why Ernestine used to laugh and say “we are the phone company, ha, ha, on Laugh In”)

The Fourth Amendment says the government may not enter or search a citizen’s dwelling or home on a whim. The British used to go house to house and randomly search the Colonial’s homes. Are we in danger of that again with the government’s reach into cyberspace? That is question for discussion by all citizens.

Seems confusing? It is confusing


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