Phone Tapping

Topics: United States Constitution, Telephone tapping, Telephone Pages: 5 (1510 words) Published: December 5, 2011
A Characteristic of Orwell’s Big Brother?
Communication makes the world what it is. Without communication, people would virtually be in total isolation from one another and with events around the world. Telephones play an integral role in providing this much-needed communication. Telephones also permit people the freedom to say what they wish to others on a confidential basis, without any risk of witnesses. This freedom allows releases that many people believe no one can take away. Most people take this freedom for granted and overlook the fact that the government can, under certain restricted conditions, take it away by phone tapping. Phone tapping is the secret monitoring of a conversation by a third party. Where some may argue that phone tapping is necessary, that argument is misleading and incorrect in many aspects. Many argue that phone tapping is an invasion of privacy. Nowhere in the Constitution is the word privacy mentioned, implying that, “Privacy is a value or ideal in society,” (McCloskey) but not a right. This is one argument in support of phone tapping. While some claim that the Constitution supports this argument, sections of the Constitution actually provide reasons why this argument is incorrect (Browne). Those guidelines imply that Americans have the right to privacy, because there would be no point for laws to protect privacy if privacy was not a right. However, the Bill of Rights does not explicitly say the word privacy but it implies and defends privacy within multiple amendments including the Fourth and the Tenth. The Fourth Amendment clearly states, “Without probable cause and a search warrant, the government cannot search or seize your house or belongings.” ("United States Constitution."). The right to not to have one’s personal property and belongings searched, is a guideline that defines privacy. The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, or to the people.” ("United States Constitution."). This means the government has no power or right to invade our privacy or do anything that it not specifically sanctioned in the Constitution (Browne). Therefore, concerning the invasion of privacy by phone tapping, the government has no right under any circumstances to tap any phone for any means without probable cause. Government phone tapping is said to be a key approach to staying one-step ahead of criminals and terrorists (“Bush Defends.”). The major problem with this argument is the enemy usually is too smart for phone tapping! Most often, terrorists and criminals are able to devise huge schemes to break the law without being caught. It is rather naive to assume that simple phone tapping will put roadblocks in their plans. Criminals and terrorists sometimes know the government’s plans and often they are aware of what the government is trying to do to discover their criminal acts and terroristic plots (Levy). For example, most terrorists and criminals assume their home phones are tapped and therefore they do not use them to plan their attacks or crimes (Finder). If phone calls need to be made, they normally are made off the premises or in public places. Therefore, phone tapping is too elementary to counteract their plans. Getting a court order to phone tap every public phone, for the possibility that a terrorist may use it, is quite trivial because that possibility is hardly probable enough to gain multiple phone tapping warrants (Hollingsworth and Mayes). When a phone is tapped, someone has to listen to every conversation, carefully listening for suspicious details or plans. This takes bodies away from more promising and pressing leads that quite possibly could uncover corrupt and illegal plans. In turn this actually results in phone tapping possibly aiding in criminal acts as opposed to hindering them (Levy). This idea that phone tapping aids in staying ahead of the...
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