The Patriot Act is now repackaged with a new name, The USA Freedom Act and unfortunately government’s unwarranted and indefinite storage of private records and communications continues. The new spy law, as was its predecessor, remains an attack on the 4th Amendment.
Unfortunately for big government advocates, collecting and storing data on its citizens is not cited or even alluded to in Article I, Section 8 where the powers of the federal government are itemized. Nor has such authority been added by way of an amendment to the Constitution.
Fortunately for us this behavior is specifically forbidden in the Fourth Amendment which 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.” The amendment was specifically designed to prevent government spying on its own. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated” is the strongest possible language conceivable.
Prior to the American Revolution the British government used what was called “a general search warrant” which allowed their agents to harass the people thought to be doing, or saying, something disapproved by the government. No such flexible interpretation was allowed in our government until recent times. In our day, computers are our papers. Simply confiscating their messages and storing them, perhaps indefinitely, should be no different than the police walking into your home and taking from you any letters you have received or are about to send and housing them in police headquarters in case they should need them in a later day. As a first principle your house and papers are off-limits to the government.
Written by Dr. Harold Pease
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