Cedar Rapids Attorney Weighs In on NSA Surveillance


By Larry Burkum

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Another ruling today for government surveillance of cell phone calls -- specifically the data.

A federal judge in Manhattan said the *data collection program* is a "vital tool" to combat terrorism. Yet what is the balance between personal freedom and the privacy that comes with it, and allowing access to this private data, in the name of security?

During this season where so many people are opting for unlimited data or new cell phones themselves, that 'unlimited data' could also led to unlimited surveillance - thanks to Friday's ruling in U.S. District Court.

The ruling came from Manhattan but its effects could be felt here.

"The founders didn't have any idea there would be phones, much less cell phones," said David O'Brien, a Cedar Rapids attorney.

Yet the founders words in the Bill of Rights are a major element of Dave O'Brien's work - a focus on civil rights - he acknowledges the balance between privacy and security.

"That's why they put the Fourth Amendment in place. It protects you from an unreasonable search and seizure, absent probable cause."

Minutes after getting his Smartphone worked on, one Marion man took on the larger picture.

"I'm not hiding anything - it doesn't bother me but I can see where the government is overstepping what it should be doing," said Dick Makinster.

President Obama has defended the surveillance programs -- yet also is looking at constraints who who can access the information.

Friday's ruling comes just two weeks after a ruling from a judge in Washington D.C., calling the NSA's position "unconstitutional".

"It just balances it out. A few weeks ago, we had the decision that was emphasizing the civil rights aspect, the privacy rights Americans have. This decision today emphasizes security aspect but we all want to be secure but we also all want to have our privacy rights protected," said O'Brien.

He added that he thinks public sentiment is swinging back to the privacy side - a little bit - but also that *it wouldn't take much of a situation* for people to fall back in line with a position where "security is more of a focus".

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