By Roger Anghis.
Our 4th Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized. This Amendment has been ignored since the establishment of the so-called Patriots Act during George W. Bush’s first term. We can’t make a phone call, send a text, send an email, or post on any social media without the government having record of it illegally. Mobile carriers responded to a staggering 1.3 million law enforcement requests last year for subscriber information, including text messages and phone location data, according to data provided to Congress.
A single “request” can involve information about hundreds of customers. So ultimately the number of Americans affected by this could reach into “the tens of millions” each year
The number of Americans affected each year by the growing use of mobile phone data by law enforcement could reach into the tens of millions, as a single request could ensnare dozens or even hundreds of people. Law enforcement has been asking for so-called “cell tower dumps” in which carriers disclose all phone numbers that connected to a given tower during a certain period of time.1
We are being monitored everywhere we go. Courts have already decided that when you’re out in public you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that people will be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. In the Supreme Court case, Katz v United States, the Court developed the idea of a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The Katz case dealt with a wiretap on a public phone booth as police attempted to thwart a gambling ring. The Court stated that there was an expectation of privacy in a phone conversation, even if that conversation took place in a public phone booth.
The Court also ruled, though, that anything that a person knowingly exposes to the public, regardless of location, is not protected by the Fourth Amendment. A person must keep something private for the Fourth Amendment to apply.
To determine whether there exists a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” a two-prong test has been established.
First, the person must show a “subjective” expectation that his activities or items would be private.
Second, the individual must show that his subjective expectation of privacy is one which society considers reasonable.
To illustrate how this test works, let’s consider cases in which there is and is not a reasonable expectation of privacy.
People have reasonable expectations of privacy in their own person, house, vehicles, and business offices. They also have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal communications such as telephone calls, letters, and journals. Moreover, if a person needs a key or password to gain entry into a space, whether they are physical or electronic, there is also an expectation of privacy in that space. Examples here include cell phones, computers, bank safety deposit boxes, lockers, and luggage. 2 Even though this ruling states: People have reasonable expectations of privacy in their own person, house, vehicles, and business offices. They also have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal communications such as telephone calls, letters, and journals. Moreover, if a person needs a key or password to gain entry into a space, whether they are physical or electronic, there is also an expectation of privacy in that space.” That expectation is completely ignored “for the good of the whole”. The government has become the enemy.
Street lights are spying on us as well as our appliances and TV. Ever hear of a device called Alexa? I refuse to own one. Smart TVs have cameras that can be turned on remotely. Wrapped in a Snuggie, I like to binge on reruns of The Golden Girls all by myself. Except I’m not really alone. Once every few minutes, my TV beams out a report about what’s on my screen to Samsung, the company that made it. Chances are, your TV is watching you too.
Ever wonder why TVs are getting so cheap? Manufacturing efficiency plays a role. But it’s also because TVs have joined the ranks of websites, apps, and credit cards in the lucrative business of sharing your information. Americans spend an average of three and a half hours in front of a TV each day, according to eMarketer. Your TV records may not contain sensitive financial data, but that history is a window to your interests, joys, and embarrassments. And marketers are grabbing it because, legally speaking, we gave our permission when we set up our Internet-connected smart TVs. 3
CIA Director David Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.
‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ said Petraeus.
‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’
Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems. 4
With the Biden administration calling parents concerned about what their children are being taught terrorists and the Obama administration calling evangelicals and real patriots terrorists, we have got to replace these politicians with real American patriots.
© Roger Anghis