By Suzanne Hamner – BarbWire guest contributor
Freedom-loving Americans and those supporting the Constitution value the Fourth Amendment. There is not one individual on either the left or the right who would publicly publish for all the world to see any information, communication, interaction, or images they consider to be their private property or anything that would violate their own privacy. Regardless of who you are, you value privacy. However, Judge Richard Posner of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit believes privacy is “over-rated.”
Posner told a conference on privacy and cybercrime in Washington, DC, “I think privacy is actually overvalued.”
If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine.
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According to Posner, “privacy interests should have very little weight” when it comes to the country’s national security since “the world is in an extremely turbulent state” and “very dangerous.”
While Posner is supportive of the NSA’s “hoover” activities, he does suggest that Congress should limit the agency’s use of that data.
Posner does not understand why individuals who use smartphones need any legal protections at all. According to him, if anyone searched his cell phone, all they would find are email addresses, some email text, cat pictures, and phone numbers. One can assume that Judge Posner thinks those are acceptable to be collected by the government. Of course he does, as his own words confirm, “What’s the big deal?”
The big deal, Mr. Posner, is it is not the government’s business—or anyone else’s for that matter—what information is contained on anyone’s phone. Email addresses, phone numbers, pictures, and text contained on that phone are the business of the person who owns the phone, no one else’s. Evidently, Mr. Posner needs to be educated on the Fourth Amendment since he, being a judge of the US Court of Appeals, is in a position where that knowledge is crucial.
Using Mr. Posner’s own argument, one could ask why the man sitting in the Oval Office sealed all of his records, along with those of his wife, if “privacy is actually overvalued?” Records that, for all intents and purposes, are the property of public domain, for Obama have been sealed and prevented from undergoing public scrutiny. And Mr. Posner should explain why Dianne Feinstein was outraged when Senate computers were “compromised” if there is nothing wrong with the government spy apparatus poking its nose into areas it has no business.
The violations of government against individual rights and liberties are not usually gross in the beginning; rather, these violations begin subtle then expand incrementally. The government has been violating rights and liberties for over 100 years – subtle at first then increasing incrementally to the point we are at today. From the looks of things, the violations of rights and liberties will not cease, but only expand until nothing will be private any more.
Anyone who claims “it’s no big deal for government to collect any of my data, since I am not doing anything wrong” should go ahead and make public the contents of their computer, internet activity, email and phone contact lists, as well as any other “content” one might consider private. Obama should be the first to surrender his data, followed by Posner. Those unwilling to do so based on it being no one else’s business are hypocrites – read liberal left democrats.
Regardless of what position anyone associated with the federal government holds, all ignore the phrase “shall not be violated.” In fact, everyone associated with the federal government ignores the “rule of law” and the supreme law of the land. Each and every one of them know what is in the Constitution and understand it. They cannot claim ignorance as it has been established that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
To even suggest that Congress establish limits on how the data is used basically declares Congress the authority on how the government uses “private” data, even what is considered private data, obtained unconstitutionally against law-abiding citizens. Everyone has known for years that phone companies and other entities with which a person does business keeps a record of transactions; however, those records are produced by the consumer or agent, thereby rendering those records as “effects” or movable property. These effects are protected under the Fourth Amendment meaning a detailed warrant must be issued in order to obtain those records. A “general” broad warrant encompassing everything and everyone, as is standard practice by the NSA and FISC, violates the limits on unreasonable search and seizure, thereby treating every American as a criminal.
With the technology that is present today, much can be learned about an individual from a digital photo, phone numbers used, email addresses logged, and any metadata gathered by the NSA for government use. Not only can factual information be learned, but suppositions based on this data can be formed resulting in inaccuracies that could irreparably damage an individual. Add to this mix the potential to alter information to fabricate wrong-doing and one has a scenario right out of “1984” and the old Soviet Union.
As government shifts from one that is supposed to protect our freedom and liberty to one that restricts it, this information becomes valuable in weeding out dissenters, the political opposition and infringing on unalienable God-given rights. As government continues its shift in destroying those rights, one could find their every move being monitored in every room of their home, every word they utter being recorded and preserved, and every action scrutinized for “impropriety.” One might find themselves the subject of arrest for an innocent joke or comment.
Once the surveillance state has begun, it is voracious in its insatiable appetite – it can never get enough. Make no mistake, the surveillance state in America is present, and there is no end in sight.
Members of Congress have proven themselves untrustworthy through refusal to honor their oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Can they really be trusted to “limit” the use of unconstitutionally gathered “private” data? Even if Congress were to limit the use of this data gathered by breaking the law, does anyone actually believe any government agency or Congress, for that matter, would follow it, as rampant lawlessness, corruption, and criminal activities abound in government?
Posner believes so. Do you?
Suzanne Hamner (pen name) is a registered nurse, grandmother of 4, and a political independent residing in the state of Georgia, who is trying to mobilize the Christian community in her area to stand up and speak out against tyrannical government, invasion by totalitarian political systems masquerading as religion and get back to the basics of education.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.