Folks, if you think FISA is the last bastion of the Fourth Amendment, I have bad news for you. If FISA is indeed the last bastion, the Fourth Amendment is already gone. The current bill will not fix the problem, no matter whether telecoms are given the affirmative defense of acting under color of law. The problem exists in the USA PATRIOT Act, not in FISA.
When a civil engineer sets out to design a bridge, or an aerospace engineer sets out to design a new jet engine they are not free to proceed in any willy-nilly way that they want to. There are very specific and very extensive regulations that must be followed. These regulations are the result of years and years (in many cases, decades) of careful study and analysis. A bridge engineer must know how much the steel and concrete will expand in mid July as the temperature reaches 105 degrees and how much it will contract when it drops to -25 degrees in January. They must consider the strength of the materials being used, their flexibility, their reaction to heating up and cooling down, the long term effects of weather, salt spray, and friction and a thousand other parameters.
When a civil engineering project is completed, it must pass a series of reviews, tests, and inspections. When a new Navy ship is commissioned, it must pass a bewildering number of inspections, stress tests, and extended sea trials where the entire ship is pushed beyond its expected stress loads time and time again.
It is only through this extremely structured, regulated, monitored process that our society produces safe roads, passenger jets, Navy ships, automobiles, and power tools. Every time something doesn’t collapse, explode, melt or crash into something else, this is the process that we fail to thank for producing safe engineered products.