History teaches that government spying is naturally subject to abuse without strong oversight, yet only the tiniest fraction of electronic surveillance of Americans — the tip of a vast and rapidly growing iceberg — is meaningfully visible to Congress, let alone the general public. Under the controversial FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act of 2008, set to expire at the end of the year, the National Security Agency is empowered to vacuum up the international communications of Americans under sweeping authorizations that dispense with the need for individual warrants. Despite reports of large-scale overcollection of Americans’ e-mails and phone calls, including purely domestic traffic, the NSA has brazenly refused to give Congress any estimate of how many citizens’ private conversations are being captured in its vast databases, and legislators have shown little willingness to demand greater transparency as they prepare to reauthorize the law. Increasingly, even ordinary criminal investigations employ off-the-books electronic surveillance techniques that circumvent federal reporting requirements. The public is informed about the few thousand wiretaps authorized every year but remains largely in the dark about newer and far more prevalent techniques, such as the routine use of cell phones as sophisticated tracking devices.
Featuring Holly Bell, Associate Professor (Business), University of Alaska Anchorage; and Hester Peirce, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center; moderated by Louise C. Bennetts, Associate Director, Financial Regulation Studies, Cato Institute.
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In this issue of Regulation, Jonathan H. Adler and Nathaniel Stewart make the case for property-based fishery management, utilizing territorial or catch-share allocation among fishery participants. Also in this issue, Michael L. Wachter explores the relationship between the much-maligned National Labor Relations Act and the decline in union membership.
Timothy Sandefur’s insightful new book documents a vital, forgotten truth: our Constitution was written to secure liberty, not to empower democracy.