Last week it came out that the FBI is seeking to change rules so that it may spy on the computer internet browser record of every American without a warrant. Perhaps the FBI is unaware of the 4th amendment. This story has been eclipsed in the news cycle by the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub early yesterday morning, but I still felt the need to write this essay.
I came across a June 6 online Washington Post article by Ellen Nakashima titled FBI wants access to Internet browser history without a warrant in terrorism and spy cases. Yes, warrantless searches. This is just the next step toward a universal surveillance state.
Author, former judge, and liberty advocate Andrew P. Napolitano wrote a June 9 online article about the new FBI power grab titled Wake Up, America! Napolitano pointed out how blatantly unconstitutional this new power would be, ignoring the 4th amendment.
With 9/11 we got the gratingly misnamed USA Patriot Act forced on us with: roving wiretaps, “sneak and peak” searches, and national security letters.
In 2013, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the massive metadata collection being done by the NSA. Basically, the NSA was archiving the phone records of everyone in a database and tracking cellphone locations.
The USA Freedom Act of 2015 did not undue all the onerous provisions of the Patriot Act. The Freedom Act (sort-of) banned mass collection of metadata by the government, which is comforting to those who believe that the government obeys it own laws.
A National Security Letter (NSL) is a document issued by one FBI agent to another demanding that a private party turn over documents or information to the government. There is no judge, court, evidence, or 4th amendment with an NSL; it is open tyranny.
Furthermore, NSLs generally come with a “gag” order; this means that the entity handing over documents cannot (under penalty of law) tell anyone -including the object of the search -that it ever occurred. They have been demanding internet records with NSLs for years. There went the 4th and 1st amendments inn one move!
But now the FBI wants this sort of power openly codified in law by Congress! Why bother having Congress give you permission to break the Constitution -something that it may not Constitutionally do? Why are the commissars at the FBI worried about formalities at this late point?
At this point, it is prudent to assume that anything you say or type on your phone or the internet, and every website you visit, is ending up in a database that the government may peruse it at its will.
I have never had a cellphone. I do have a phone line to my house, but I rarely use it. While I had occasionally used the internet at a friend or relatives, I did not have the internet in my house until four years ago; I got the internet out of my house over a year ago. The essays on this blog were posted using the Wi-Fi from a local restaurant dining room.
At times like this, I contemplate why I am still on the internet. As long as I am researching and posting this blog or publishing books, I will have to use the internet. I am slowly cutting back on my use of the internet. While I may not ever fully “unplug” from all electronic communications, I am not ruling out that possibility. Yes my readers, Big Brother really is watching.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Joseph Charles Putnam of Orange County, Indiana. All rights reserved.