“You’ve completely undermined the purpose of the Fourth Amendment,” said Laura Donohue, a Georgetown law professor.
Yet since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has won most of its political battles over powers it says are necessary to fight terrorism. The widening legal authorities came as computing power surged. Social media services, such as Facebook, became wildly popular. And many Americans began using smartphones, capable of emitting a constant stream of information about their owners.
Companies and government agencies, meanwhile, increasingly moved information to remote cloud servers, maintained in many cases by the same companies that documents showed were working with the NSA to gather information.
“The rat-tat-tat of repeated government and business blowups over privacy are going to increase the sense of edge that some consumers have today about the sharing of information,” said Jules Polonetsky, a former AOL privacy official and director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an industry-supported think tank.