Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Court Order Needed to Spy on Americans Overseas, Appeals Court Rules

Ryan Singel writes on Threat Level:

The Fourth Amendment’s shield against invasive searches reaches only partially across the border, a federal appeals court ruled this week, finding that the nation’s spies don't need a court order to wiretap an American overseas, though there has to be a good reason for listening in.

The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals ruling [.pdf] fills in a gap in surveillance law and could complicate cases challenging both the government’s warrantless wiretapping program and a newly passed surveillance law that gives the government wide latitude to snoop from inside the United States without getting court orders.

The unsigned opinion found that wiretapping overseas was invasive, but that it made no sense to require a court order to wiretap or search an American overseas, since the warrant would have “dubious legal significance” in another country. The test, the court says, is whether the search is reasonable.

More here.


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