Roving Wiretaps – U Can Run, But Can U Hide?

White House Backs Controversial Domestic Surveillance Provisions, VOA News, September 16, 2009

The Obama administration is urging lawmakers to extend three provisions of the controversial domestic surveillance law known as the USA Patriot Act.

The U.S. Justice Department issued a letter Tuesday asking Congress to renew provisions of the law that allow authorities to conduct roving electronic eavesdropping, or wiretaps, access business records and track so-called “lone wolf” suspects with no known links to foreign powers or terrorist groups.

The roving wiretaps would let agents track the communications of suspects who change their cell phones or other devices.

The provisions are due to expire on December 31.

Some lawmakers and civil libertarians have criticized the provisions, saying they infringe on Americans’ right to privacy. The Justice Department says the administration is willing to consider stronger privacy protections as long as they do not “undermine the effectiveness” of the provisions.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from the northeastern state of Vermont, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, says it is important for the administration and Congress to work to protect both national security and civil liberties.

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