Mass surveillance could be hurting fight against terrorism

Patrick Wohl explains in a Washington Examiner article how tons of data tied to mass surveillance drown out useful information in the fight against terrorism.

In the case of the Pulse nightclub shooter, the Boston marathon bombers, and the shooters in Garland, Texas, in 2015, warning signs abounded. Omar Mateen had been interviewed twice by the FBI after being reported by members of his local mosque. The CIA and FBI were warned about the Tsarnaev brothers long before they committed their heinous acts. One of the shooters in Garland had previously been arrested.

So if the government had known about them, why weren’t their plans thwarted? One possible explanation is that the sheer number of false leads that are obtained through use of mass collection – caused by outdated laws like the ECPA – had distracted from true threats. Mass collection of emails can lead to thousands of false leads, sending law enforcement running in circles. The Email Privacy Act will not only help solve this problem but will strengthen our Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

Introduced by Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., this bill has wide bipartisan support. Similar legislation passed the House last year by a vote of 419-0 with an astounding 300 co-sponsors. After failing to advance in the Senate because of issues related to pork barrel spending, this bill finally has a chance this session to become law. By passing it, Congress will help protect businesses and consumers from government overreach and strengthen our national security by allowing law enforcement to focus on credible threats, not black holes of information.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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