Prof. Nockleby quoted in a USA Today story about the National Security Agency's secret data mining
The law hasn't kept up with new technology, says John Nockleby, director of the Civil Justice Program at Loyola Law School Los Angeles. The technology allows government investigators to not only map the target of an investigation but also everyone connected to that person.
"If they do this on a case-by-case basis, they are getting some localized information. It's a pinprick," Nockleby said. "But when they massively do it, they are enabling the government to search the human web of interconnectivity in a way that's never been possible before. The overarching issue of our time is to what degree do we want to allow the government to amass this kind of human interconnectivity in order to forestall the possibility of mass terrorist events."
Trouble arises when people with tangential connections become subjects of further investigation, Nockleby says. Checks and balances imposed in other investigations don't exist here, he said.
"There are going to be people swept up merely because the computer algorithms say they should be a target," he said. "So much of this rests on a blind faith that the government is comprised of good guys."