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US bill looks to close down wireless surveillance

Senator Markey wants to end snooping malarky
Fri Aug 10 2012, 12:31
Mobile phone mast

A BILL has been proposed in the US Senate that could rein in wireless surveillance.

The bill (PDF) proposed by Senator Ed Markey is up for discussion and, according to the man behind it, is an acknowledgement of how much snooping there is these days.

"The startling number of requests made for the personal information of mobile phone users strongly suggests that clear, consistent rules should be established to protect the privacy of innocent people," said Markey.

"With searches and seizures now happening in cyberspace, this legislation will update the 4th amendment for the 21st century. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this critical legislation."

Markey is suggesting that wireless surveillance should become a lot more transparent, meaning that senators like himself would not have to go out of their way to find figures on how often it happens. So, while he has had to request the information, he sees a future where wireless snooping is reported and regulated by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

There would also be more checks and balances on how and when it happens. For example, judges would have to give their approval in some instances and law enforcement would have to properly explain why they need it.

He's also hoping to stop tower dumps that expose information on large groups of people gathering and talking in one place at a time. If all this sounds reasonable, it is because it is.

Markey has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). "The Wireless Surveillance Act would bring much needed transparency to a very murky area of surveillance law," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

"We need more information and better controls for these requests - not only about whom they are targeting but how that information is being stored. We need to ensure that law enforcement no longer has carte blanche to track innocent Americans." µ


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