NSA PRISM legal considerations
Doc Searls from Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society has blogged an overview of the debate on the NSA PRISM program.
The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, released this statement on June 6th.
Orin Kerr quotes from his 2011 Brooking Center essay-
The benefit of computer surveillance is that it can process information quickly and inexpensively to learn what would have been unknowable. Assembling and processing information may lead to plausible conclusions that are far more far- reaching than the information left separate. If so, data manipulation can have an amplifying effect, turning low impact information in isolation into high impact information when processed.
Reaping these benefits requires surveillance systems that allow the initial collection and processing. To reap those benefits, the best way to design surveillance systems is to allow the initial collection but then place sharp limits on the later stages such as disclosure.
"The NSA call records program appears to be that idea on steroids: Collect everything, and then control access to the database created. But I’m left puzzled as to what the legal basis is for what appears to be happening. Where are they getting the Terry standard here?"
The Terry Standard being the 4th Admendment standard that defines when the police can justifiably stop a person and question them. If we carried the analogy through, we might imagine that the government assumes it has access to the metadata that tells them what street their suspect is walking down and when - the discretion comes at the point they decide to 'look at the data.'