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Long IslandColumnists

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.




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

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