Tapping into the Wiretap Debate   [open pdf - 449KB]

From the thesis abstract: "The use of electronic surveillance by federal intelligence agencies has historically been a contested topic. After a series of missteps by the intelligence community, Congress enacted the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Court to define and oversee electronic collection and surveillance in order to better protect civil liberties. In the twenty years that followed, the world would undergo an evolution in communication technologies, creating vulnerabilities for U.S. intelligence agencies under the law. In the aftermath of 9/11, both Congress and the Executive Office enhanced electronic surveillance measures to combat terrorism. Critics of the new laws and secret executive program argue infringements of civil liberties under the fourth Amendment. Advocates claim an essential need for national security. This paper will examine several related issues. What is the historical rationale behind the laws? How and why have they been adapted over time? Are they currently sufficient to provide intelligence agencies with the tools necessary to protect America while also providing adequate assurances to the American people of their right to privacy? And what further measures can be taken to improve the current system?"

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