Rein it in, report says.
One doesn’t have to wade deeply into the murky waters of surveillance policy to find people who have no problem with broad-based spying on foreigners’ phone calls and e-mails. Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago, for example, argues that we should only curtail such spying on foreign citizens—and even on friendly foreign leaders—if their countries can “offer us something in return for that protection.” Surveillance is just one more bargaining chip to be used between countries; since we can perform surveillance better than many other nation-states, unilaterally curtailing it would make us “suckers.”
As for calls that the US should recognize at least some limited privacy rights in the communications of foreign nationals, Posner thinks the very idea ridiculous. “Foreigners are protected by national boundaries,” he wrote last month. “That is why it makes sense to give constitutional privacy protections to citizens, and not to foreigners who live overseas.
The call for an international right to digital privacy will go nowhere, because it makes no sense.”
Given the apparent prevalence of this view among the US intelligence community, today’s new “Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies”—authored by a number of insider establishment figures—comes as something of a surprise.
The 300 page document is absolutely stuffed with references to the privacy considerations owed to non-US citizens.
And while some of this is of course a mere damage control exercise in the face of world outrage, the rhetoric does at least occasionally rise to striking heights.