National Security, Electronic Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment

As a result of massive leaks of top secret information by NSA contractor employee Edward Snowden starting in June 2013, a very large amount of previously secret and classified information has been made public which shows that either without judicial warrants or with warrants not based on traditional probable cause standards the following examples of information are now readily accessible to the U.S. foreign intelligence community: (1) the metadata of U.S. phone calls (who calls whom and when, as well as time and length of the call, but no content); (2) the content of emails; (3) codes for breaking encryption used to keep internet data private; and (4) the communications of over 35 world leaders, many of whom are longstanding allies of the U.S. Also made available by Snowden were previously secret rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which authorize much of this data collection. Since the Snowden leak, there have been many federal court cases either sanctioning the collection of this data or finding it to be unconstitutional. There has been legislation resolving some of these issues. The issues may also be resolved in part, by the United States Supreme Court. Looking at the lawfulness of these surveillance tactics, this course asks the question whether these massive data collection practices can be sustained under the Fourth Amendment.

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course