Sunday, March 16, 2008

Privacy Underpins Human Dignity

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the force of the Crown. It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow though it; the storms may enter; the rain may enter -- but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.

Speech on the Excise Bill - 1733

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham
Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in many regional treaties, such the European Convention on Human Rights.
The US has led a worldwide effort to limit the legal extent of individual privacy. At the same time, the US has greatly increased the capability of its police and intelligence services to eavesdrop on personal communications.
The campaign has had two legal strategies. Firstly, all digital telephone switches, cellular and satellite phones must integrate by law built-in surveillance capabilities. Secondly, the US government has aggressively sought to limit the dissemination of software that provides encryption.
For instance, the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) mandated that phone companies install remote wiretapping ports into their central office digital switches, creating a new technology infrastructure for "point-and-click" wiretapping. As a result, federal agents no longer have to go out and attach alligator clips to phone lines.In 1995, the FBI disclosed plans to require the phone companies to build into their infrastructure the capacity to simultaneously wiretap 1 percent of all phone calls in all major US cities. Read Full story

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