Protect our privacy, and us as well

President Barack Obama waves to the audience after

President Barack Obama waves to the audience after he spoke about NSA surveillance at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. (Jan. 17, 2014) (Credit: AP)

Don't invade my privacy. Just keep me safe.

That, right there, is where the hard choices begin. We hate the idea of the government snooping into our business so long as the government knows everything the moment anything goes wrong.

If 9/11 taught us a single lesson, it was this. At the first sign of genuine trouble, many people will go scampering for the bunkers, happily tossing away their precious rights as they run.

Well, on Friday, Barack Obama issued a sweeping directive limiting the government's mass collection of American phone data. This was politically possible because terror activity lately has been so light.

No longer will all of our call records live on a government computer somewhere, the president promised to cheers from both the Left and the Right.

These reforms, Obama said, "should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe."

On balance, this was a real victory for civil libertarians, the most significant limit on government surveillance since the pre-iPhone days. It will almost certainly last until the next plane flies into the next tower or the next terror bomb goes off.

 

THE NEW NSA

 

1. We Can't Hear You Now

2. Friends and Family and No One Else

3. The Not Now Network

4. It Just Got Complicated

5. Very Limited Text, Talk and Data

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: With Japanese and Korean leagues saying they'll honor A-Rod's MLB suspension, would the shut-out slugger actually consider spending this summer with the Ducks? Was Michael Pfaff's invitation more than a publicity stunt? . . . What can quell the maxi-uproar over Mobile Mini's plans for a 600-container outdoor storage facility on Old Northport Road in Kings Park? Can the Smithtown Town board imagine a middle ground? . . . A Blizzard of Dairy Queens on LI? When will Massapequa DQ pioneer Laura Maier, who broke a 30-year Dilly Bar and Mr. Misty drought last summer, open in the ex-OTB on West Jericho Turnpike in Huntington? . . . You mean they aren't just GPSing the school buses in Roslyn? They're electronically monitoring the children too -- with lanyards and ID cards? . . . Long Island Industrial's $35 million capital investment, what does that say for Nassau and Suffolk's industrial future? That we have one? That the mega-landlord is betting on it? . . . Why shouldn't a parking garage double as an ice rink, a concert venue or a fairground? Tim Love of Utile Architecture + Planning asks, "Why hide the parking lots?" . . . Why was a majestic bald eagle soaring above Hempstead Lake Park the other day? Didn't the birdbrain know bald eagles are rare around here? . . . Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read wants some local government meetings held virtually? But will the same actual people be involved?

 

THE NEWS IN SONG: Let me reassure you, baby, that you're never alone: "Tap It: The NSA Slow Jam" by EyezOpen-Wyde, tinyurl.com/openwyde

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