By Tom Rhodes, 1/21/2013
If you believe the sum of the Bill of Rights implies that you have right to privacy then what do you do about the government violating that right? Are you consistent in your belief in a right to privacy? If the decision to have an abortion is a privacy decision between a doctor and the patient, then should all medical records and choices be just as private? Should what you choose to eat or drink be a private decision between you and your chef? Should the government know what you choose to read, should your reading decisions be a choice between you and your librarian?
Right now the government commands every business and internet provider who has an email server to keep copies of all emails ever sent or received forever. The government cannot command any person from keeping their post mail forever. The idea that the government could force FedEx or UPS to open and retain a copy every document they deliver is reprehensible and clearly unreasonable. Why does modern technology, and private not public delivery systems grant them the authority to require copies of all mail be retained forever? Imagine the outcry if the government directed the post office to open and make a copy of every letter, postcard, periodical, ever sent, who sent it to whom from where and to where.
Ever read the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution? It reads: 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 persons or things to be seized. This begs the question: What exactly is unreasonable? The dictionary says that something that is unreasonable is not in accordance with practical realities, as attitude or behavior; inappropriate.
We instituted our government to protect our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It cannot be reasonable argued that a people under continuous government surveillance, can be free to pursue happiness, much less be happy. The constitution is clear, that for the government to look at a person, their property, and their papers (communications) the government must have some probable cause for wrong doing, and may only look for what they specifically have cause to see. That means that they have to have some reasonable suspicion of some wrong doing before they can open your mail, look in your closet, peek in your safety deposit box, etc., and have a judge affirm by warrant that they have grounds to look at your stuff.
Why is it reasonable for the government to require businesses and individuals to report activity to law enforcement agencies simply because private and legal activity is taking place. What is reasonable about the government requiring cell phone companies to keep copies of every text sent? What probable cause is there for the government to have access to that data without a warrant, is the fact that technology has negated requiring actual "paper" to record transactions and communications make them any less your papers? With no evidence of criminal behavior what is the reasonable justification to constantly monitor all persons emails, travel and financial transactions.
What reasonable justification is there to create databases of personal information, medical records, and communications without consent, probable cause, or a warrant?
What reasonable justification is there to require the registration of legally owned private property without consent, probable cause, or a warrant?
What reasonable justification is there to assume that just because a person is traveling that they consent to being searched. How is it reasonable for the government to take away persons right to travel, merely by putting their name on a secret list, without demonstrating probable cause or due process in a court of law?
Why is your email not as sacred, and as protected your physical mail? Is that reasonable? Does the fact that your papers are now composed and stored electronically make them any less your papers than if you'd created them with a quill ink on parchment? Are your computer files any less your effects because they are electronic, than a photo album in your sock drawer? The imagery of government officials coming into your house and rifling through your file cabinet, closet, attic, and sock drawer searching for some evidence of crime with no warrant and no probable cause is a tyrannical image of an abusive government that outrages us all. Yet the image of some nerdy government official tapping away at a keyboard in some fare away cubical to rifle through your neighbors files and internet activity seems reasonable, and doesn't stir emotional outrage.
As an American you should oppose the power of government at all levels to monitor, account for, and keep under surveillance its citizens, especially where there is no evidence of criminal behavior. Without a warrant the government shouldn't be allowed to force businesses and individuals to report activity to law enforcement agencies simply because private and legal activity is taking place. You as an American should oppose all laws that legitimize the means, without probable cause, to universally monitor personal mails, travel and finance. As an American you should deny your government the ability, power, and authority to create databases of personal information, medical records, and communications without consent. As an American you should reject the idea that you must register personal property. And as an American you should deny the government the use of technology to continually observe you and your neighbor. We should oppose the searching of travelers without probable cause. Not only are these violations of the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, but they in many cases universal government surveillance violate the first, second, fifth, ninth, tenth and fourteenth amendments as well.
Technology has outpaced the law. People and government can use technology in ways never before imagined. Our government now considers searching through every email and text of every person as reasonable. Not because your personal correspondence is any less your personal papers and effect, but because they now have the technology to do so. Why is that reasonable or constitutional? Why does the ability to search everything grant the government a compelling interest that justifies the authority to search every email and text without a warrant? What enumerated constitutional power grants the government have to monitor its citizens?