The problem with this strategy in this case is that the folks to whom they are lying have dealt with Comcast, Time Warner, et al., for far too long. Everyone is so used to their ISP lying to them that even if the ISP told the truth (hey, it could happen!) no one would believe them anyway.
I refer the court to the case of "Finders-Keepers v. Losers-Weepers."
Seriously though, isn't this analogous to someone losing control of their car and having it wind up on your lawn? You don't get to take possession of the vehicle (although that would be sweet). Although I do wonder if you can bar someone from trespassing on your property to reclaim it. Any lawyer-folk want to weigh in on that question?
I think one key difference is that many astronomers have had a life-long love of astronomy. They were studying the heavens long before any thought of doing so professionally even occurred to them. If they lost their jobs, they would still study astronomy. So perhaps they see a certain kindred spirit with the amateurs.
Professional journalism seems to be more focused on the "professional" then the "journalism." Why that's the case I can't say, but the effect is to set up an antagonism between the "professionals" and the "amateurs."
The whole hearing is of course pointless grandstanding as only Congress can do it. But we also need to remember that lay people understand the concept of "duplicating the problem" a lot differently than those in the engineering fields. This congressperson is not the only one who was thinking that, I can assure you.
His choice of words was not suitable for his audience. Sadly, there ARE people who are not scientists or engineers, and these things need to be explained to them.
The word "privacy" may not appear, but the concept most certainly does. The Fourth Amendment is pretty clear: "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects..." If you want to argue that "secure" is not synonymous with "privacy" in this context, you'll need a mighty sharp blade to split that hair.
Moreover, you even contradict your own point: "ven legal wiretappers MUST discontinue listening if the conversation does not pertain to the reason for the wire tap." Why must they? Because there is a right to privacy.
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