Peter Scheer: NSA may have adhered to legal rules, but legal rules can’t keep up with changes in surveillance technology

From First Amendment Coalition: A year or two from now, when investigators have taken stock of all the revelations in the NSA records released by Edward Snowden, the verdict is likely to be that the exposed NSA surveillance activities were NOT unlawful.

That isn’t to say the NSA’s scarfing up of email and phone call metadata filling acres of computer servers in Utah wasn’t excessive, intrusive and objectionable. It was (and, to the extent ongoing, still is). But we are likely to conclude that the agency was fairly scrupulous in its adherence to legal boundaries, and that its overstepping was infrequent, mostly unintentional and, in any event, corrected by the FISA Court in subsequent oversight proceedings.

All this will reconfirm the truism that the legal system cannot possibly keep up with changes in technology. And the disconnect in time and relevance between the world of legal rules and the world of technology expands as the pace of technological change accelerates.

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The California First Amendment Coalition is a member of NFOIC. –eds