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Friday, May 12, 2006

 

Supreme Court: It's Legal



There's been much ballyhooing over the USA Today story about phone companies turning over phone records to the NSA. They didn't turn over actual conversations (which the phone companies don't have anyway) but rather lists of what numbers were called. Predictably, Democrats and liberals are calling it illegal.

It isn't. The U.S. Supreme Court said in Smith v Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979):

[W]e doubt that people in general entertain any actual expectation of privacy in the numbers they dial. All telephone users realize that they must convey phone numbers to the telephone company, since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed. All subscribers realize, moreover, that the phone company has facilities for making permanent records of the numbers they dial, for they see a list of their long-distance (toll) calls on their monthly bills. . . .


[E]ven if [a caller] did harbor some subjective expectation that the phone numbers he dialed would remain private, this expectation is not one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. . . . This Court consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties. . . . [W]hen [a caller] used his phone, [he] voluntarily conveyed numerical information to the telephone company and exposed that information to its equipment in the ordinary course of business. In so doing, [the caller] assumed the risk that the company would reveal to police the numbers he dialed.



It's legal. The Supreme Court said so. Time for Democrats and the media to tell the truth.

"Today's report confirms that, despite White House scare tactics, Social Security remains sound for decades to come.."

-? Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) upon hearing reports that the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds will go bankrupt even earlier than predicted.

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