Author Topic: Missouri aims to stop the snoops (Washington Times Editorial)  (Read 89 times)

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Offline Fishrrman

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Missouri aims to stop the snoops
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Founding Fathers were without peer in the eloquence and power of words. For more than two centuries, their ideas have shown the way to build a free and prosperous nation. It’s a sign of our splintered times that some Americans feel it necessary to bring timeless language “up to date.”

Missourians will be asked next month to amend their state constitution, whose words are largely drawn from James Madison’s original, to recognize and protect privacy in the digital age.

The relevant section of the Missouri Constitution is familiar: “That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures.” The proposal would insert “electronic communications and data” into the list of items secured.

The proposed amendment would explicitly spell out that to “access electronic data or communication” requires a warrant based on probable cause describing the particular communication that is to be seized.

The language in the original is plain enough, even to a federal snoop, and the additions ought not to be necessary. The Bill of Rights didn’t need a rewrite man to note that messages sent by telegraph were protected in the 19th century, nor telephone calls in the 20th. There shouldn’t be any reason to identify new technologies as they come onto the market. The courts should get the point, but sometimes don’t. Judges are often reluctant to challenge the government.

Plain words and plain meanings of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution puzzle the National Security Agency. The agency will snoop and eavesdrop on anything it pleases, whether telephone call, instant message, email or singing telegram, no matter whether the conversation is in Berlin, Moscow or Jefferson City.

No change to the Missouri Constitution will stop the NSA from breaking the law, but the threat of additional language might make state and local police — and the courts — think twice (or three times) before aping the federal example. Little Brother can be as intrusive as Big Brother. USA Today finds that police in 33 states use warrantless subpoenas to obtain “tower dumps” from telephone companies, enabling them to track anyone near a particular cellphone tower at a given time.

Additionally, 25 state and local agencies are using a “Stingray” device that masquerades as an actual cellphone tower, enabling law enforcement officers to intercept communications and track the movements of everyone in the vicinity with a mobile phone. Emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the U.S. Marshals Service encourages police departments in Florida to conceal the use of this technology from judges and the public.

After one police officer wrote an honest and accurate accounting of an investigation mentioning the Stingray snooping device, and how it works, federal agents tried to intimidate the local police with scolding. A chastened cop emailed a warning to the police chief in a neighboring town. “Could you please,” he suggested, ” … at minimum instruct the detectives [in] future cases, regarding the fact that it is unnecessary to provide investigative means to anyone outside of law enforcement.”

Clarifying the fact that warrants are required to access electronic data should give Missouri judges the authority they need to keep law enforcement honest. Voters will be asked to approve the proposed amendment when it appears on the ballot Aug. 5.

Congress should enact a reminder to federal agencies, including specifically the NSA, that the plain language of the Fourth Amendment means what it says. Chief Justice John Roberts put it clearly in a recent opinion: “Get a warrant.”

Offline Fishrrman

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Re: Missouri aims to stop the snoops (Washington Times Editorial)
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 09:55:40 AM »
Finally, a step in the right direction. But this is only a first step, the beginning, not the ending.

As I posted again and again and again in previous months in this forum, the Fourth Amendment as it stands is no longer "enough". It needs to be shored up, supported, and further defined by additional language in our Constitution that explicitly bars such invasions of privacy.

I will repost the text of my proposal once more:
Citizens protected by this Constitution possess an inalienable right to privacy in their persons, businesses, and homes, and while they are in public.

It shall be a violation of this Constitution for the United States or for the several States to violate or invade the individual privacy of citizens by use of physical, mechanical, or electronic means or by the use of devices on land, on water, below the ground, or from the air.

This protection shall extend to all lawful communications and acts by an individual citizen or between two or more citizens, including content that is spoken, written, or electronically transmitted. It shall extend to citizens regardless of their location, whether in private or in public.

The only exceptions will be as governed by the Fourth Amendment of this Constitution.

As I've said and said again, just four short paragraphs that anyone can understand.

Yet this will breathe new life into the Fourth, and provide the States and the people the Constitutional power by which to fight back against the government and its spies.

Simple questions:
Do YOU value your own privacy?
If so, don't you believe in protecting it?
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 11:03:09 AM by Fishrrman »

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