Both law enforcement and national security organizations have regulations regarding collecting and storing information gathered. Referencing at least one regulation from each, indicate what you think reasonable restrictions on information collection and storage could be.
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I would think that these organizations should be prohibited from collecting information unless they have reasonable cause (not probable cause, but reasonable cause) to believe the target of the collection effort is involved with terrorism. As for storage, perhaps they could be limited to a certain amount of time unless they get a court order in which they show why they are justified in keeping it longer.
Drawing the distinction between "reasonable cause" and "probable cause" would be challenging, but I like the suggestion that "reasonable cause" would be a good basis for validating collection of information. Illustration - I would consider automatic profiling of individuals who belong to certain ethnic, religious, or racial groups to be most likely based on someone's suspicion that there might be probable cause, regardless of any concrete facts that may or may not support the actual need for such information gathering. Storage of information is going to be harder to limit, I fear.
This is very much about your opinion.
I personally am very unwilling to give up elements of privacy in the name of safety. I believe that we as citizens have many areas of our lives where we have a presumption of privacy that is not neccessarily true. I want cause, and I want multiple people to assess the need to collect the infomation before the government collect what would naturally seem to be private information. I do not any one person or group to have access, I want oversight and checks and balances.
As far as storage, I think if we are wise and reasonable and respectful in collection, then storage is less of an issue. If their has been all attempts at maintaining privacy for citizens and information has been collected as a result of careful consideration and good oversight then keeping it is not an issue for me.
There are two dangers with storage. One is that the storage unit could be breached. A large collection of personal information would be tempting to some criminals (particularly cyber criminals). It is important to make sure that any information collected is stored in a safe and proper manner to prevent identity left and other misuse of information. I would suggest that the other issue with storage is bias against a person. If information is collected on a person of interest or a suspect and it is found that this person was innocent, their information should not be kept. It can unfairly prejudice future proceedings involving that person if it is known that they were looked at for another crime even though they did not commit that crime.
The Patriot Act allows the federal government to collect a large amount of information that most people consider private. They can read e-mails, listen to phone calls, and even look at what books you buy or check out from a library. Although access to this information is supposed to be tightly controlled, you can see how the privilege might be abused.
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