The comedic circles have picked up on the humor that is found within such debacles as the recent NSA report. You no longer have to pay for that expensive data back-up, the NSA is doing it for you, no charge!
Claiming that the NSA is gathering information from cellphone services and the internet on Americans, a 27 year old new civilian employee (less than 3 months on the job according to sources) approached British newspapers and the story spread very quickly across the sea. Many Americans are, however, concerned that the Administration cannot be trusted with the information that is being gathered. And this comes as a surprise? But whose responsibility is it in the first place to maintain your privacy?
Much has happened to strengthen the feeling that the ‘government’ cannot be trusted to protect Americans from the right to be secure in our homes and our holdings and that we should fear that the government will over reach its authority. The IRS scandal that is currently going on makes it seem apparent that this Administration will use any information or authority within its reach to seek out political ‘enemies’ and destroy them. That is the key reason that this mining of information from cyberspace, whether by cellphone interception or tracking information purposely sent over the internet is so unwelcome to so many. How will the Administration use it?
Citizens immediately run and grab hold of the 4th Amendment claiming illegal search and seizure; confident in their belief that we as Americans should be free from such fear. This is true but in this particular case, the Fourth Amendment, I contend, does not apply.
There are three points upon which I base this thesis: First, No citizen of the United States should expect to have any semblance of privacy over information purposely sent through electronic media that is not hard-wired or any information purposely disseminated across cyberspace including FACEBOOK, Twitter etc. If an American citizen chooses to utilize the convenience of such a tool they do so with the caveat that any information spread by these electronic means is not private and cannot be ever expected of being so.
Once that information is sent into cyberspace, it is available to anyone who can find it.
Fellow Americans, you have a choice. If you do not want the government (ours, theirs or whomever’s) to mine your cyber-speak for intelligence purposes, then do not use a soft-wire, cellular, wireless, internet driven or cyberspace transmitted communications devices. The Fourth Amendment applies only where we, as citizens, can have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In this genre of communication, there is no such expectation. A nice ink pen, a comfortable 20 weight stationary paper, and a U.S. postage stamp will not only serve to communicate your thoughts and ideas, it will do so with all the clarity and personalty that you could want and it comes protected not only by the Fourth Amendment but by federal statutes such as 18 USC 1708 that will garner the malefecent actor a fine and up to five years in prison.
Second, in a 1986 Supreme Court Decision involving similar issues, the court allowed that: aerial surveillance over your home or business is not required to have a fourth amendment warrant for search and seizure. Americans have no expectation of privacy from the space above their homes or businesses.
The following is an excerpt from the NY Times article dated May 20, 1986:
AERIAL SEARCHES OF FENCED AREAS UPHELD BY COURT
Special to the New York Times Published: May 20, 1986
WASHINGTON, May 19— The Supreme Court ruled today that government investigators do not need warrants to conduct aerial surveillance of areas that any pilot could legally fly over, including the fenced yards of private homes.
The Court voted 5 to 4 in each of two cases to uphold warrantless aerial surveillance both of a suburban, fenced backyard where the police suspected marijuana was being grown and of a highly secured Dow Chemical Company complex in connection with possible air pollution violations.
The Court ruled in each case that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures did not apply to government investigators who use airplanes to observe or photograph places over which any private pilot might legally fly. Privacy Is Questionable and in the case of cyberspace, when Americans willfully place their own information out there floating in bits and bytes and nano bytes and terra bytes; well, still expecting privacy simply bites!
Third, American citizens have abdicated their authority to others such as faceless PACs and lobbyists.
Americans are eager to say ‘the government did this’ or ‘the government did that’ and well, perhaps in one sense that is true. Certain people in the government did do whatever is being stated. But, it was not the government that did ‘it’ because in America, We the people… are the government. What is done by people in the government happens because we as the government continue to allow it. So, you say: “That’s what my Representative or Congressman is for, he or she should be handling it for me!” Pay close attention to the word, representative. The people who have stuck their neck out to take this position as a congressman need the support of the people, folks who are willing to call or write with their thoughts and concerns. Until Americans get actively involved and call the Administration to task for the IRS scandal, the Benghazi cover-up and ask: “Why there is no special prosecutor named to investigate the murder of Christopher Stevens?” there will only continue to be dissatisfaction and mistrust of the government.
Three simple points that make it clear that as far as the NSA is concerned, they are doing one hell of a hard job and we should be supporting them as well as watching for those who would abuse the privileges. Those who do their job well deserve our thanks. Those who abuse our trust deserve prison. When the NSA director lies in a Congressional hearing and says ‘No’ we don’t gather information on American citizens, he deserves to lose his position, at a minimum. There are times and places for secrecy, that we all understand. Secrecy is part of how we protect our nation and there are appropriate avenues for sharing what needs to be and should be shared. That hearing was not, perhaps, the appropriate place to ask that question in the first place.
So, America, step up and do the job that your acceptance of citizenship in this great nation demands that you do.
We the People… That’s us. We must be about the task. A great President once called upon his fellow Americans to “…highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Shall it?